ARCA Racing Series

Xfinity Series Spotlight: Ty Majeski, the driver Mark Martin calls ‘the one’

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CONORD, N.C. — Ty Majeski‘s first NASCAR start isn’t for another two days, but Roush Fenway Racing already is commemorating the event.

In one portion of the museum and gift shop at the team’s headquarters hangs a shirt produced specifically for the 22-year-old driver’s debut in the Xfinity Series at Iowa Speedway.

Photo by Daniel McFadin

“I think Roush Fenway decided to do it,” Majeski told NBC Sports sitting in an office at the team’s headquarters. “I think they ordered 144 shirts. They were sold within an hour and half. I don’t think they understood what kind of following I have up in the Midwest.

“But once we posted it on our Facebook page it was, ‘Boom!’ And they ordered another 144, and I think it was a day, boom, they were gone again. Now they’re coming out with a ladies line of the same design. They’re selling like crazy.”

The shirt sits around the corner from one that honors Mark Martin‘s Hall of Fame induction in January. Majeski will be driving a Ford with the No. 60, the same numeral Martin drove to victory lane 39 times in the Xfinity Series.

In a prerace news release, Martin gave the native of Seymour, Wisconsin, all the praise one could hope for.

“With Ty Majeksi, I think Roush Fenway may have the one,” Martin said. “I think he is Roush Fenway’s next Matt Kenseth or Carl Edwards. I think they are sitting good with him as a young driver developing. I’ll be watching with great interest.”

More than a month before his Xfinity debut, Majeski and Martin bonded on Twitter over their shared experience of winning a race at Rockford Speedway in Illinois.

A week before his Xfinity debut, he notched his series-record 17th win in the ARCA Midwest Tour, where Majeski also has won three straight titles. He did that in a car sponsored by iRacing, Majeski is the top-ranked driver on the racing simulator, having won more than 830 races in 1,112 starts. iRacing will be on his car for both Iowa races this year.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: What was the experience like getting into the Xfinity car for the first time (in a test at Iowa)?

Majeski: Obviously, it’s critical now that NASCAR puts such a limit on NASCAR testing as a whole. So any time a team can get a test is critical, for both the driver and the team. I adapted pretty quickly to the race track, to the Xfinity car. I did a lot of iRacing. So it didn’t take me too long to adapt to it, and I think the second or third run, we were already making adjustments on the car, trying to make it better and make the team better. I think it was critical to use our time to continue to improve the race car and not just me adapting to everything.

NBC Sports: What was it like for you when you saw the painted car for the first time?

Majeski: It was really cool. That’s kind of when it became real for me. Seeing it in the shop, seeing my name on it. Seeing all the guys working on it. I’m like, ‘Man, this is actually happening.’ Obviously, it’s something I’ve been working towards my whole career since I’ve been racing go-karts at 9 years old. This is what I wanted to do. Didn’t become I guess even feasible until just a few years ago. Before, it wasn’t just a hobby, but it just wasn’t realistic at that time. We started winning late model races, big late model races all over the country and it became a reality.

NBC Sports: You’re going to be working with (crew chief) Seth Harbour this weekend. When did you first get to interact with him getting ready for this?

Majeski: I do a lot of shocks for Bubba Wallace in the shop. I do a lot of work in the shop every day. I go to the racetrack with them when I can when I’m not racing my late model or don’t have other obligations to do. So I travel with him. The first time I really worked with them was at Las Vegas this year with Bubba Wallace. … I got to work with Seth and see how he acts and how he communicates with his drivers. I think that was big. Have somewhat of an idea going into the debut.

NBC Sports: Why the shock area, is that a specialty for you?

Majeski: No, it’s not a specialty for me. I actually had never saw the inside of a shock before I started working. I have some sense of what they do. I know what the adjustments do and I know what I need and I know what they feel like when you do a certain adjustment, but I never knew what the inside of one looked like. The reason we chose the shock department is because it gives me a wide range of, I guess, experiences.

NBC Sports: So when you’re getting to know Seth, what are you working on communication wise to know what you like, what he likes? How do you get your verbiage down for when you’re in the car?

Majeski: I think a big thing was having my crew chief Toby Nuttleman down at the test. I’ve been working with him; he’s the crew chief I’ve had most of my successes with. I’ve been with him the last, this will be the fourth full season now. He came down to the test, he can tell by the tone of my voice on how big of an adjustment he needs to change, just on how I react, what I’m saying. That just comes with time. He was able to translate a lot of that to Seth at the test. It definitely helps for sure.

NBC Sports: Will this be the longest race you’ve ever been in?

Majeski: Mileage-wise, yes. But I’ve done 300-lappers before in the late models, which at least at Iowa, you have some straightaways you can rest. I can argue that a 300-lap race at Pensacola for the Snowball Derby’s going to do more wear and tear on you than a mile racetrack. Mileage-wise, it’ll be my longest race, but I’ll be all right.

NBC Sports: Who all is going to be at the race this Saturday?

Majeski: A lot of people. My whole late model team is going to be there. Tons of friends and family. I know there’s buses going down from Wisconsin. There’ll be a lot of Ty Majeski fans there for sure.

NBC Sports: You’re from Seymour, Wisconsin.What’s the coolest thing about Seymour?

Majeski: The first hamburger was made in Seymour, ever. Seymour is the home of the hamburger. 

NBC Sports: What’s the best burger joint in Seymour?

Majeski: You know that’s the funny part. There isn’t a burger joint in Seymour. There’s a McDonald’s. There’s a Dairy Queen. But there’s no burger joint. Can’t believe it.

NBC Sports: Do you remember the first NASCAR race you ever attended?

Majeski: Yeah, I was probably 8 or 9 years old, and it was at Bristol. I always wore, obviously I’m about 5-4, and I was always one of the faster runners growing up, and they always had shirts that said ‘I’m short and fast like Bristol.’ I would always wear those shirts to school and stuff. I thought it fit well.

NBC Sports: What do you remember about that race?

Majeski: I remember it was a Cup race and there was this Dale Jr. fan next to us, and she had little No. 8’s painted on her finger nails. Every single lap, 500 laps, she would wave them this way (motions to himself), and as he would go past the corner, she’s wave them back that way. Five-hundred times, every single lap. I’ll never forget it.

NBC Sports: What’s your favorite phone app to use that’s not social media?

Majeski: Probably Uber. I’m flying all over the place. I don’t have any games on my phone. I don’t have any music on my phone. Pretty simple guy. Other than social media, probably Uber gets used the most or The Weather Channel to see if it’s going to rain on race weekend.

NBC Sports: What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had in an Uber?

Majeski: I haven’t had any weird experiences. I’ve had silence for the whole drive. But I haven’t hadn’t any super weird experiences, which is good. Knock on wood.

Previous Xfinity Spotlights

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

Daniel Hemric

William Byron

Spencer Gallagher

Cole Custer

Ross Chastain

Elliott Sadler

Ben Kennedy

Blake Koch

Brennan Poole

Matt Tifft

Tyler Reddick

Kyle Benjamin

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Toyota executive calls Truck Series ‘critical step’ in developing drivers

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A Toyota Racing Development executive says that the manufacturer would accept a spec engine in the Camping World Truck Series, noting how valuable that series is for the development of drivers.

David Wilson, president of TRD, made the comments Friday on “Tradin’ Paint” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR tested a spec engine for the Truck series multiple times last year and it is expected to be optional this season.

Wilson admits the spec engine idea has raised concerns among manufacturers.

“It is a little bit of a sensitive issue with all the manufactures,’’ Wilson said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Arguably the biggest single piece of (intellectual property) in any car or truck is the engine, so certainly that’s important to us.

“By the same token we understand the bigger picture. We have been working with NASCAR, all the (manufacturers) have been working with NASCAR to make sure that we keep this series going because here’s the bottom line — while our motivation to run in Trucks has changed over the years, it remains an absolute critical step in how we as an industry develop drivers.

“The leap from ARCA or K&N or Super Late Models straight to Xfinity, that’s too big of a leap. You need a step and that Truck Series is a very important step. You look the drivers that have come through just in our camp — Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez — that experience in the Truck garage has been absolutely critical in preparing them to be successful in Xfinity and ultimately in Cup. We’re going to continue to take a big picture approach with the Truck Series and work with our friends at NASCAR. If there are some spec engines that have to be under a Tundra hood, so be it, we’ll be OK.’’

Last year’s Xfinity champion and rookie of the year, William Byron, ran a full season in Trucks in 2016. Erik Jones, the 2016 Xfinity rookie of the year, ran 17 Truck races before his Xfinity debut. Daniel Suarez, the 2017 Xfinity rookie of the year, had run only one Truck race before his Xfinity rookie season but he also ran 13 Truck races while competing in Xfinity that first year.

Those young drivers also illustrate Toyota’s emphasis on new talent. But with only five seats — four with Joe Gibbs Racing and one with Furniture Row Racing —  with Cup teams partnered with TRD, Toyota is having a hard time finding spots for all its drivers.

Wilson said the manufacturer remains committed to developing drivers.

“It’s a commitment that Toyota has made to NASCAR and to motorsports,’’ he said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We enjoy a tremendous amount of value. NASCAR is simply a phenomenal place for us to race. This is part of our payback.

“We feel like we have the social responsibility to give back to the series. We know we’ll lose as many of these young guys and gals as we’ll be able to keep because we simply won’t have enough seats for them. That’s just simple math. It’s already been proven out by William Byron (who raced for Kyle Busch Motorsports in Trucks before moving to Chevrolet in Xfinity and now Cup). We’ll be racing against William, who used to be in a Toyota.

“Bottom line this sport still benefits. As I’ve said before, getting to know these young kids and getting to know their parents at a young age and as they’re coming up in the sport, I believe that will pay dividends. These kids can have a career that spans decades. Who’s to say that we won’t cross paths again? By us building that relationship early on, showing them who we are … the responsibly we have to their well-being, I think it’s a sound investment.’’

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WATCH: Sneak preview of the Hall of Fame induction at 8 p.m. on NBCSN

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The NASCAR Hall of Fame’s ninth class of inductees won’t be remembered so much for the imprint left on the record books as on the revolutions in stock-car racing.

In a video essay that will be shown during tonight’s induction ceremony (which will begin at 8 p.m. on NBCSN), Robert Yates, Ray Evernham, Red Byron, Ken Squier and Ron Hornaday Jr. are saluted as much for what they achieved as how they accomplished it – and their lasting effects on the machines and people that they touched.

–Yates’ ingenuity with engines ranked him among the greatest engine builders. But along with the wins and championships, he also imparted life lessons and knowledge to the apt pupils who are carrying on his successful legacy.

— A crew chief with three Cup championships and 47 wins, Evernham transformed how races and teams were managed, from innovative car designs to clever tire strategies to finely tuned pit crews.

–As the premier series’ first champion, Byron raced with a special brace connecting his leg (which was injured in World War II) to the clutch pedal, embodying the self-determination and grit of NASAR.

–“The Great American Race” was coined by Squier, whose pitch-perfect wordsmithing helped make him a broadcasting legend whose dulcet tones described some watershed moments in evocative and remarkable detail.

–Four championships made Hornaday synonymous with the truck series, but he indirectly played a role in eight Cup titles, turning his couch into “Camp Hornaday” for fellow California natives and budding stars Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

You can watch the video essay above or by clicking here.

Tune in at 8 p.m. for TV coverage of a ceremony that should feature special moments and some surprises.

The Hall of Fame ceremony also can be viewed via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 8 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

The moral choice that Kyle Larson made in the closing laps at Miami

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CHARLOTTE – Every NASCAR driver has a code of ethics, and the closing laps of last season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway presented a quandary for Kyle Larson.

If you can’t pass two title contenders with a championship on the line, does discretion become the better part of valor in choosing to pass neither?

It did for Larson, who reflected on his most recent Cup race this week.

With eventual champion Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch dueling ahead of him in the final 20 laps, Larson elected to stay in third place and let them settle the title instead of passing Busch and then taking a shot at Truex with his No. 42 Chevrolet, which led a race-high 145 laps.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who has led the most laps at Miami the past two years, said his only option in vying for a victory would have been having the consistent speed to assure he could overtake Truex and Busch.

“I think there were some laps I was faster than them,” he told NBC Sports during a Tuesday announcement to announce DC Solar as an expanded primary sponsor in Cup for 2018. “I obviously didn’t want to affect the outcome of the race. The only negative part of the (playoff) format is when you’re not in the final four, you can’t race your hardest.

“I don’t know if I would have won. I think I could have got to second and potentially the lead. I wanted to pass both of them quickly. I didn’t want to pass Kyle and then stall out for three laps and have him be upset or whatever.”

Indeed, Busch was upset with another driver, expressing frustration that he believed Joey Logano blocked him while trying to take fourth after the final restart.

Though Larson made a conscious choice to avoid separating Truex and Busch, he also dispelled the notion that he still wasn’t trying to muster the speed to win.

“I was driving my ass off,” Larson said. “Obviously, I ran into the wall a few times trying to pass them or get the run to pass both of them quickly, but I could never get it going. So no, I didn’t let (Truex) win or whatever. I was still racing hard.”

Larson, who scored a career-best four wins last year, seemed a good bet to be racing for a title until an engine failure at Kansas Speedway. After a busy offseason of racing sprint cars around the world, a refreshed Larson returned to his team’s NASCAR shop this week and ready to reset his focus.

“I don’t even think about NASCAR until now,” he said. “I feel like today is Day 2 of my offseason. I’m just now getting back into the swing of things.

Larson is enthused about a Jan. 31-Feb. 1 test of Chevrolet’s new Camaro at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (“You can kind of get an idea of how the start of your season will be there.”) before heading to Daytona International Speedway for Speedweeks.

“Last year, I didn’t know we were going to be that good, and then we started the year off really good, and we maintained that consistency and competitiveness,” said Larson, who led the points standings after the fourth through 11th races of the 2017 schedule. “I hope that we can do that again. I feel like when you get close like we did last year, it pushes everybody to be as good or better than what we were.

“I expect that we’ll be contenders again, but it’s hard saying with the new body and stuff like that. I’m sure there’ll be growing pains throughout it, but I definitely feel we have an extremely smart group of people who can do what it takes to get our cars better every week to have a shot.”

Daytona International Speedway releases Speedweeks schedule

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Daytona International Speedway has released the schedule for Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck teams for Speedweeks.

Cup teams will have one practice of 1 hour and 20 minutes for the Clash (down from 1 hour, 50 minutes for Clash teams last year).

Cup teams will have five practices for a total of 4 hours, 10 minutes in preparation for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500. Last year, Cup teams had seven practices for a total of 6 hours, 25 minutes before the Daytona 500. The two Cup practices the day of the Duel qualifying races have been eliminated this year.

Xfinity will have the same amount of practice as last year. Camping World Truck Series will have one more practice this year for an extra 1 hour, 20 minutes of track time this year.

Here is the track schedule for Speedweeks.

SPEEDWEEKS SCHEDULE

*subject to change

SATURDAY, Feb. 10

10:35 – 11:55 a.m. — Practice only for teams in Advance Auto Parts Clash

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Cup practice (for all teams)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Cup practice (for all teams)

4:45 p.m. — ARCA race

SUNDAY, Feb. 11

12:15 p.m. — Daytona 500 qualifying

3 p.m. — Advance Auto Parts Clash

MONDAY, Feb. 12

No track activity

TUESDAY, Feb. 13

No track activity

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 14

No track activity

THURSDAY, Feb. 15

11:35 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. — Camping World Truck Series practice

2:25 – 3:25 p.m. — Camping World Truck Series practice

4:35 – 5:25 p.m. — Final Camping World Truck Series practice

7 p.m. — Can-Am Duel 1

9 p.m. — Can-Am Duel 2

FRIDAY, Feb. 16

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Cup practice

2:05 – 2:55 p.m. — Final Xfinity practice

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Cup practice

4:30 p.m. — Camping World Truck Series qualifying

7:30 p.m. — Camping World Truck Series race NextEra Energy Resources 250

SATURDAY, Feb. 17

9:35 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. — Final Cup practice

2:30 p.m. — Xfinity race PowerShares QQQ 300

SUNDAY, Feb. 18

2:30 p.m. — Daytona 500

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