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: Martin Truex Jr. looks for rebound at reliable Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr. started the playoffs on good footing, finishing third in the first two races at Las Vegas and Richmond after leading the most laps in both races. He then was one turn away from winning on the Charlotte Roval before being spun by Jimmie Johnson.

Then he more or less disappeared, with his last two races culminating in a “miserable” run at Talladega and a 23rd-place finish.

Entering this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas, where he’s won two of the last three races, Truex is 18 points above the cutoff spot in the last transfer position.

On NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman and Dale Jarrett discussed the defending series champion’s prospects entering Kansas.

“Someone is always having a problem and falling out of that eighth (playoff seed in the elimination race),” Jarrett said. “Can that happen this Sunday afternoon? It certainly can happen. Can Martin Truex be that one? You wouldn’t think (so) because he’s done so well over the years at this race track regardless of what car he was driving. … He just knows how to get the job done there.”

Kligerman said “there’s no doubt in my mind that they will advance” if the No. 78 team does everything they do well.

Watch the above video for more.

 

 

Long: Is Talladega supposed to look like this?

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So what is NASCAR? Is it a sport? Or is it a show?

Admittedly, those in the NASCAR offices likely will view its racing as both. But that creates a conflict over how to look at Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

If one views it as a sporting event, Stewart-Haas Racing’s domination — qualifying all of its cars in the top four, running there much of the race and Aric Almirola winning with Clint Bowyer second — should be celebrated because SHR did what every team hopes to do every weekend.

But that performance doesn’t play well to the overall view of the race (or show). With SHR controlling the front and drivers battling ill-handling cars, the two- and three-wide racing so common at Talladega often was replaced by single-file racing.

The 15 lead changes were the fewest at Talladega since 1973.

Green flag passes — a stat NASCAR tracks based on position changes over each scoring loop on every lap — were down 54.4 percent from last fall’s playoff race at Talladega.

Think about that … lead changes at its lowest level since before any driver in Sunday’s race was born and green-flag passes down more than 50 percent from the previous year.

Is that something fans want to see more of?

Doesn’t seem to be the case based on Jeff Gluck’s weekly Twitter poll. He stated that only 42 percent of those who voted this week thought Talladega was a good race.

Fewer than 50 percent of the voters said either Talladega race this year was a good one in Gluck’s poll. The April race had 24 lead changes — the fewest for that event since 19 lead changes in the 1998 race — and saw a 57.8 percent decline in green-flag passes.

There’s an expectation when NASCAR races at Daytona and Talladega of pack racing, passing and wild action.

Such was in limited supply at both Talladega races this year. But it wasn’t just there. The four plate races (Daytona and Talladega) saw 89 lead changes this season — down 29.4 percent from last year’s plate races.

While three of the four plate races this year ended with a last-lap pass (Austin Dillon in the Daytona 500, Erik Jones at Daytona in July and Aric Almirola at Talladega last weekend), not everyone may be willing to wait through the racing to those final laps.

With the 2019 rules package, NASCAR anticipates pack racing to remain key at Daytona and Talladega but Sunday’s race might force series officials to make some additional changes to ensure the pack is back next year.


Questions have been raised about how NASCAR officiated the end of the Truck and Cup races this weekend at Talladega.

Kurt Busch was critical of NASCAR’s decision. Had NASCAR called a caution for the crash in Turn 1 on the last lap, Busch likely would have won. Instead, he ran out of fuel and Aric Almirola won.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, explained Monday on SirusXM NASCAR Radio how series officials made the call on if to throw the caution in either race.

“Our first job is to always make sure everybody is safe, and we felt we did that in this case,” O’Donnell said about letting the Cup race finish under green.

While each last-lap scenario presents different challenges, NASCAR must remain steadfast in following what O’Donnell said in terms of driver safety. That must be No. 1 regardless of it is the last lap at Talladega, the last lap of the Daytona 500 or the last lap of the championship race in Miami.

NASCAR must be consistent with that. And that may mean calling for a caution instead of a dramatic race to the finish line.


It won’t be next year but maybe someday GMS Racing likely will field a Cup team.

GMS Racing, owned by Maury Gallagher, was in talks with Furniture Row Racing earlier this year to purchase the team’s charter, align with Joe Gibbs Racing and move to Cup next season. It’s one of the reasons why the team, through Mike Beam, didn’t try to top Front Row Motorsports’ bid for BK Racing’s charter and equipment in a court-appointed auction in August.

After examining all the costs, Gallagher decided not to pursue the Furniture Row Racing charter and equipment.

“We’re still talking and thinking about it, but first things first, we’re trying to get through this year and do some good things, particularly winning the (Truck) championship,” Gallagher said after Timothy Peters won the Truck race at Talladega.

Spencer Gallagher called the deal not working out a “tempered disappointment” but added “we got into that deal and we realized that we were going to have to undertake some additional complications with it. More than anything, if and when we make the decision to go Cup racing, I’d like to think that if we have one true luxury it is that we get to choose when and where we get to do it, which means that we’re committed to only doing it if it can be done right.

“As Maury likes to say, there’s always another deal that comes along. Patience is our watchword for getting ourselves into Cup.”

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Scan All Talladega

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to look at the fallout of the Talladega Cup race.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from the Stamford Studio. Dale Jarrett joins them from the Charlotte Studio.

On today’s show:

  • As the playoffs head for Kansas, only Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott are safe. And as we’ve seen in years past, big names have entered the Round of 12 cut race with good points cushions – only to meet with disaster and elimination. Which driver above the cut line should be the most worried?
  • Marty Snider is at Stewart-Haas Racing with a report on how they’re looking to have all four of their drivers advance again in the playoffs. Plus – he talks 1-on-1 with Aric Almirola’s crew chief, John Klausmeier, about how the No. 10 team is preparing for the Round of 8.
  • Almirola and Co. are riding high, but Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 crew are in big trouble. A three-week series of unfortunate events have put them 18 points behind the cut line. Can they find a way to save their season? Steve Letarte talks with their champion crew chief, Paul Wolfe.
  • And we’ll take one last look – and listen – to last weekend’s wild finish that shook up the playoff picture in Scan All Talladega.

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.

Aric Almirola ended third longest drought between first, second Cup wins

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Despite being just over four years ago, July 6, 2014 feels like it was in another lifetime.

Now imagine how Aric Almirola felt prior to his win Sunday in the Cup race at Talladega.

It had been 149 races since Almirola first visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series. He won the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in 2014 driving Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford.

When Almirola passed Kurt Busch coming to the checkered flag Sunday, it snapped the third-longest streak of starts between wins No. 1 and No. 2 in the Cup Series.

Here are the top five longest streaks.

1. Martin Truex Jr.  – 218 starts between wins

Truex’s first win came on June 4, 2007 at Dover International Speedway while driving Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s No. 1 Chevrolet.

He would have to wait until June 23, 2013 at Sonoma Raceway to get win No. 2, this time coming in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 Toyota

2. Jamie McMurray – 165 starts between wins

McMurray famously earned his first Cup win in his second career start. Subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin in Chip Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge, McMurray won on Oct. 13, 2002 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Win No. 2 did not present itself until July 7, 2007 at Daytona. Driving the No. 26 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, McMurray beat Kyle Busch by five-thousandths of a second to return to Victory Lane.

3. Aric Almirola  – 149 starts between wins

4. Ward Burton – 131 starts between wins

Burton won his first Cup race in his sophomore season, driving the No. 22 Pontiac for Bill Davis Racing. He won on Oct. 22, 1995 at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

Five years later and still driving the No. 22 for Davis, Burton returned to Victory Lane on March 19, 2000 at Darlington Raceway.

5. Morgan Shepherd – 115 starts between wins

After making eight Cup starts from 1970 – 1978, Shepherd finally ran a majority of the schedule in 1981, running all but the first two races. His first win came relatively quickly in race No. 9 on April 26 at Martinsville Speedway.

The second victory came on March 16, 1986 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Of Shepherd’s four career wins, three came at Atlanta.

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