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.
“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?
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.
In an emotional victory lane interview Saturday night, Camping World Truck Series winner John Hunter Nemechek said he didn’t know how many races he would compete because of sponsorship issues.
Tuesday, NEMCO Motorsports announced that Fire Alarm Services, which was to be on the truck for seven races, agreed to add three races to its deal.
Fire Alarm Services will be on Nemechek’s truck for Friday’s M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store at Iowa Speedway.
Last weekend’s victory at Gateway Motorsports Park qualified Nemechek for the playoffs and leaves him ninth in the points. He ranks third in playoff points with six, trailing only Christopher Bell (13 playoff points) and Johnny Sauter (nine).
After a brief absence, Martins Motorsports is returning to the Camping World Truck Series this weekend at Iowa Speedway.
The team will field the No. 42 Chevrolet with driver Matt Mills.
Martins Motorsports shifted its focus to the Xfinity Series earlier this year and sold the rights to its No. 44 to Faith Motorsports.
“It’s been a weird year,” said driver and team spokesman Tommy Joe Martins in a press release. “So much has changed for our team in just one year. The Truck series has shifted dramatically. But I think we’ve found a good direction for Martins Motorsports. We’re at home in the Truck series. We want to be a platform for guys to take their first step in NASCAR – just like I did.”
Mills will be making his fourth Truck start of the year. His first three, at Kansas, Charlotte and Dover, were with Faith Motorsports. The 20-year-old driver finished 17th at Kansas and Dover. He finished 24th at Charlotte.
Martins Motorsports has made 29 Truck starts since 2009. Its only starts this year were at Atlanta with Martins and at Martinsville with Brandon Brown.
“We know we’ve got a chance to go out and compete for top-15’s consistently with Matt driving our trucks.” Martins said. “The relationship he’s formed with our crew chief Kevin Eagle is also going to give us a big head start on unloading fast. We want to give Matt as many opportunities as we can.”
The team hopes to compete in “several” of the remaining races in the Truck season, but a final schedule is not set.
Israeli-born driver Alon Day will make his debut in the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing. Tommy Regan will drive the No. 15 Toyota for Premium Motorsports. Josh Bilick will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. He replaces Cody Ware who is out indefinitely with back issues.
Last year, Tony Stewart won his 49th and final Cup race after swapping the lead twice with Denny Hamlin on the last lap, including passing Hamlin in the final turn.