DILLSBURG, Pa. – Anthony Macri made some of the biggest strides in all of sprint car racing last year.
After two wins in 2019, the 21-year-old ballooned that mark to 11 in 2020, vaulting from tied for 171st nationally in victories to tied for eighth.
Externally, it was a breakthrough year for Macri. But internally he accomplished his goals: win 10 or more races, amass more than $150,000 in earnings, score an All Star Circuit of Champions win, and set fast time against the World of Outlaws.
Now, as the new season gets fully underway over the next two weeks in Central Pennsylvania, Macri is trying to maintain his upward trajectory and become a more complete racer.
“Last year, it was a big feat,” Macri said. “It puts even more weight on our shoulders to kind of duplicate what we did last year. We just have to keep working hard, stay to ourselves, and not have any outside distractions.”
What got Macri to this point has been his prowess on high-banked half miles, where an aggressive approach near the top of the track shines through.
The Dillsburg, Pa. native scored nine of his 11 wins last year on half-mile race tracks, with seven of those coming at Port Royal Speedway.
In the end, he had the same number of open-wheel victories as Brad Sweet, Brady Bacon, Chris Windom, and Tyler Courtney. He also came seven points shy of the Central Pennsylvania points title to Danny Dietrich.
What will get him to the next level, however, is a better understanding of short tracks like Lincoln Speedway and a sharpened focus.
Macri compiled an average finish of 10.3 in nine features at Lincoln Speedway last year and failed to qualify for the track’s two Pennsylvania Speedweek shows. He also let some races slip away because of a misplaced focus.
In last year’s Night Before the Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal Speedway, Macri admittedly raced Kyle Larson too hard for the win. Because Larson had set an extreme precedent for most of last year, Macri found himself racing overzealously.
By the end of the feature, Macri faded with a bald right-rear tire, while Lance Dewease won in tactical fashion.
“Staying focused is a big part of it,” Macri said. “Obviously I want to think about last year and how good we did but at the end of the day, last year is last year, and now this year is this year. I have to focus on what we need to do this year.”
This year, with Jimmy Shuttlesworth back as his crew chief, Macri knows there will be more eyes following him.
“There are way more eyes on me,” Macri said as his eyes widened. “And I try not to think about it when I’m at the races.
“When I’m not at the races, it’s pretty cool to have the following I’m getting with how young I am, to be known across the country, really,” he added. “All of that is pretty cool. But when we get to the races, it’s time to do work.”
As for personal goals, Macri wants to win at Lincoln Speedway, as well as Williams Grove Speedway in a 410, where he came close numerous times last year. A World of Outlaws win is also on Macri’s to-do list, something every PA Posse driver sets out to do yearly.
But last year, the Posse failed to beat the Outlaws for the first time since 1997, and Macri feels some of that responsibility.
“A little bit,” Macri said. “I’m kind of labeled as one of the main Posse drivers now. I feel like it’s kind of my job to keep the Outlaws from winning. It’s a little bit of pressure but you have to do your job.
“I’m not here to make friends,” he said. “I’m here to make money, really. This is my living. I’m going to be focused. If something’s not right, I’m going to point it out. It’s not just my ass on the line, it’s Jim’s ass on the line.
“This is our income. We have to do our jobs the best we can.”