ARCA Racing Series

NASCAR’s Next Generation: A Q&A with Ty Majeski

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Ty Majeski‘s future was determined when he was 9 years old.

“That age where you start playing tackle football and stuff at school,” Majeski told NBC Sports. “We were sitting at the dinner table one night. I’m about 5-foot-4, right now I’m 130 pounds. Obviously, I was a lot smaller then. My parent’s didn’t want me going out and playing tackle football at all. We were always race fans and stuff. My dad was like ‘Well, why don’t I just go out and buy you a go-kart instead?’ That’s kind of how it all started.”

Twelve years later, the Wisconsin native who discovered his “knack” for racing through the “fun karts” at the Wisconsin Dell theme park is grabbing the attention of biggest names in NASCAR, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.

That tweet came a few months after Majeski won his second ARCA Midwest Tour championship. It was four months before a whirlwind week where Majeski was announced as a Roush Fenway Racing development driver and then as one of 11 members of this year’s NASCAR Next class, a program that highlights rising stars in the ranks of auto racing.

Within a month of that, Majeski was making his first ARCA Racing Series start for Roulo Brothers Racing at Madison International Speedway. He was fastest in both practice sessions and finished fourth in the race.

“Really a special last few months for me,” Majeski said.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: I read you found out you were going to be a member of NASCAR Next while studying for school, do you remember what class you were studying for?

Majeski: It would have been a physics exam that night. I got a phone call and was really, really surprised. I knew about the NASCAR Next program, but I didn’t expect to be a part of it just because I didn’t run, or I don’t run a NASCAR touring series yet. That was a surprise to me I guess. What we’ve done in the Super Late Model stuff, I guess, it was good enough for them to accept me in, which is really cool.

NBC Sports: You just finished your junior year at the University of Wisconsin, what’s it been like for those first three years, having to juggle traveling across the country while having to do school work?

Majeski: It’s obviously tough. Everybody asks me how I do it and half the time I don’t even know. Everything suffers a little bit I guess. Obviously, I miss a ton of school. I’m forced to teach myself a lot of what I need to know. The professor works with you to a point. It kind of depends on how big the professor’s ego is I guess. It’s been up and down and just a matter of something I need to get through.

NBC Sports: How heavy is your workload?

Majeski: I usually take the least amount of credits as I can and still stay full-time, so about 12, 15 credits. I’m not going to get it done in four years, no doubt about that. Nobody really gets done in four years anyways. Now, with the tough curriculum that UW-Madison has and at a lot of the higher end engineering schools, no one really gets done in four anymore. Not a big deal to stretch it to five if I need to.

NBC Sports: What were you doing back in June 2015 compared to where you are now?

Majeski: We were winning a lot of races then. If you asked me two years ago, I wasn’t even sure what we were going to be doing. We put a deal together with the team I’m with now (Team M Racing) early on in 2014 and we didn’t really know what to expect, we were a brand new team and now two years later we’re one of the best Super Late Model teams in the country, I’m a Roush Fenway development driver, a NASCAR Next member. It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around for you, surrounding yourself with the right people and how a lot of good stuff can happen after that.

NBC Sports: What was your first meeting with Jack Roush like?

Majeski: He’s obviously a great guy, a great business man. You see him on TV, so it was really cool to meet him in person. It’s cool because he’s one of the more hands on owners. He definitely has his hands in his business. He’s got great people that help him run it. He’s as big a part of as any owner, so it’s cool to be part of his team and hopefully we can have a good future together.

NBC Sports: When you were growing up, which racing teams did you root for?

Majeski: I was always a Mopar guy. I always liked Evernham Motorsports when they were good with Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne. My family’s always been Dodge people, so we always rooted for those guys and Ganassi when they were Dodges with Sterling Marlin.

NBC Sports: What’s your favorite Twitter account to follow?

Majeski: Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m really entertained by Skip Bayless. He has some ‘great’ opinions about what’s going on in the sports world, and I always get a kick out of how he changes his opinions all the time.

NBC Sports: What’s the hardest you’ve ever laughed?

Majeski: I don’t know, I’m here with my parents. Mom, what was something that was funny that I laughed at? The hardest I’ve ever laughed.

(gets response)

I really enjoy “Practical Jokers.” That’s a funny show. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. That show cracks me up pretty good.

NBC Sports: If you were in a Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, what song would you choose to be introduced with?

Majeski: “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar.

NBC Sports: What is the most emotional reaction you’ve had to a sporting event that wasn’t racing?

Majeski: I think it was just a few weeks ago watching Kobe Bryant’s last basketball game, watching him go off for 60 points. Just really taking it all in and realizing this guy was a once-in-a-generation player, you were watching his last game and he was being his vintage self. I think that was a really cool moment.

NASCAR America: What makes Kyle Busch so good at Bristol?

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Kyle Busch swept all three national series at Bristol Motor Speedway in August 2010. The next spring, he won both the Truck and Cup series. That five-race winning streak is part of a remarkable 21 victories on this track.

Last August, he swept the three national series at Bristol again.

Busch’s numbers at Bristol are nothing short of amazing – and they include back-to-back wins in the last two Cup races.

But what makes him so good?

“It’s because he’s an amazing driver,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.

“(Busch is) a guy who can make an amazing difference behind the wheel and so when you go to a track that needs a talented driver to be able to get around it, he’s a guy that takes advantage of his own skill,” Earnhardt continued. “You have to apply that to the short track. All the guys that do well at short tracks are drivers. They’re real, real men.

“They came from racing short tracks and honing those abilities … have the patience, the judgment, the decision-making ability, but also the raw speed to be able to set up their cars the way they need to be all night long.”

On a track where laps are completed in less than 15 seconds, drivers are constantly in traffic. Busch’s ability to navigate through slower cars is another key to his success, according to Kyle Petty.

“Bristol is a rhythm racetrack. … Kyle is a rhythm driver,” Petty said. “When he gets in a rhythm, you watch him when he runs – he catches lapped traffic; he disposes of them. He doesn’t spend a lot of time breaking his rhythm and having to start again.”

For more, watch the video above.

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Kaulig Racing to field second entry in Indianapolis Xfinity race

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Kaulig Racing will field a second entry for the first time in its three-year history in the Sept. 8 Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, team owner Matt Kaulig told NBC Sports.

The entry, the No. 10 Chevrolet, will join the No. 11 that is driven by Ryan Truex. The No. 10 will be driven by a “big driver.”

The news comes after Kaulig Racing earned its first top-five finish last week at Mid-Ohio, where Truex finished fifth. It came in the team’s 87th Xfinity start and was in Kaulig’s home state of Ohio, where his company, Leaf Filter Gutter Protection, is headquartered.

“It’s very (significant), it shows how our organization is growing,” Kaulig said. “A lot of these teams are getting smaller, are cutting people, are just cutting back and we’re growing. We’re just getting started. When you look at a team like ours, that’s just two-and-a-half years in, it’s all upside, it’s all of our great stuff that’s ahead of us. Not behind us. We just want to win trophies.”

The addition of a second car for the Indianapolis race follows the team building a 15,000-square foot addition onto its shop, which is located in Welcome, North Carolina, on the campus of Richard Childress Racing.

Kaulig’s time in NASCAR began as a sponsor of Blake Koch in 2015 when he drove for TriStar Motorsports.

Through 21 races, Truex is eighth in the point standings and has nine top 10s in addition to his first top five.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Wild Bristol moments, #WednesDale

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN with a look back at some of Bristol’s wildest moments.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hosts with Marty Snider and Kyle Petty joining him at the Big Oak table.

On today’s show:

  • The panel will discuss Xfinity Series driver Elliott Sadler’s decision to end his full-time career following the 2018 season. Sadler is currently second in Xfinity Series points and drives for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at JR Motorsports.
  • Dale Jr. weighs in on NASCAR’s invitation to Fernando Alonso to compete in next year’s Daytona 500.
  • Fans can ask Dale Jr. and our panel questions by using #WednesDale.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online 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 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to serve as honorary pace car driver for Brickyard 400

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Fans will get to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a car going around Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month, it just won’t be going very fast.

Earnhardt, who serves as a NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports, has been announced as the honorary pace car driver for the Sept. 9 Brickyard 400.

The race, which was held in July for its last 11 runnings, will be the regular-season finale for the Cup Series for the first time.

Earnhardt will drive a 2018 Camaro ZL1.

“I am honored that Chevrolet asked me to drive the Camaro ZL1 Pace Car in one of the biggest races of the year,” Earnhardt said in a press release. “The fan in me was already looking forward to this event. It’s a big race. There is a lot at stake since it’s the final chance for the teams and drivers to make the playoffs. So, I hope to do a good job leading the field to the green flag, but I can promise you I’ll soak in every minute and enjoy the Brickyard in a way I never have before.”

Earnhardt made 17 starts in Indianapolis between 2000-17, with a best finish of fourth in 2012 among his five top-10 finishes.

Fans will be able to see Earnhardt drive a little bit faster two weeks later. Earnhardt will compete in the Sept. 22 Xfinity race at Richmond Raceway. It will be his first race since retiring from full-time Cup competition at the end of 2017.

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