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.

Brad Keselowski puts on driving clinic with convincing win at Martinsville

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Brad Keselowski put on a driving clinic Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, leading 446 of 500 laps to win the STP 500. It was Keselowski’s second win of the season (also won at Atlanta), and his fourth top-3 finish in the last five races.

It was also Keselowski’s 29th career Cup win and his second Cup Series triumph in 19 career starts at Martinsville. Starting with his first win there in April 2017 and including Sunday’s win, Keselowski has now led 712 total laps over the last five races at the southern Virginia short track. 

“The car was really good,” Keselowski told Fox Sports 1. “Just a great day for our team. Awesome execution on pit road. … Just one of those days you dream of as a race car driver, where you have a great car.

“(Runner-up) Chase Elliott was real strong. He passed me with about 200 laps to go. I watched him and studied and knew what I had to do to hold him off and really pulled it off.”

Elliott tried to mount a last lap surge — two of the previous three races at Martinsville have been won on last lap passes — but ran out of time and fell short.

“Our Camaro was good and felt we were about as even with him as we could be,” Elliott said. “I tried to move up there at the end, but I don’t know if I could have got to him, maybe if I had moved up a little sooner. Maybe next time.”

Kyle Busch, making the 1,000th overall start of his NASCAR career, finished third, snapping a two-race winning streak (Phoenix and Fontana). Busch and Keselowski are now the only two drivers to win more than one race thus far this season.

Ryan Blaney finished fourth, followed by Denny Hamlin. Sixth through 10th were Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez.

There were only three leaders in the race: Keselowski, Chase Elliott (49 laps) and Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate and pole sitter Joey Logano (6 laps).

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski (first stage win of season)

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 31 (Fox); green flag shortly after 3 p.m. ET.

We’ll be back with more information, including quotes, full results and updated standings. Please check back soon.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Kyle Busch has idea for NASCAR’s Xfinity, Truck limits

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Kyle Busch would entertain the opportunity to pursue the one NASCAR championship that has eluded him – in the Gander Outdoor Truck Series – when his Cup career is over.

But he’s got an idea that would allow him to run both series concurrently and address the limits on Cup drivers running in lower series.

“Why don’t you let us run as many races as we want to run and then once we miss one, we’re done?” Busch pondered after his victory Saturday in the TruNorth Global 250 truck race at Martinsville Speedway. “So if I go all the way to (the June 15 race at Iowa Speedway) in the trucks and run 10 races and can’t go to Iowa, I’m done.

“You can race for points or whatever and so if that ever came down to that, then maybe there’d be an opportunity years down the road that then you can run multiple series and try to go after a championship that way.”

What was NASCAR’s reaction to the plan?

“That’s probably the first time I’ve said that or thought about it,” Busch said with a laugh. “Now that it’s out there … there’s not a damn fan that’s ever going to let it happen.”

Indeed, Busch’s 201st career victory in a NASCAR national series drew the usual outrage on social media Saturday, both from his Rowdy Nation legion of fans and those who vehemently believe he should be limited beyond the NASCAR cap of five truck races and seven Xfinity races allowed for full-time Cup drivers.

Busch has won in seven of 11 starts in trucks, Xfinity and Cup this season.

“Could have been nine or 10 (victories) probably, that’s what the scary part is if it wasn’t for simple mistakes,” Busch said. “Overall, it’s been fun. It’s a damn shame I’m only allowed five and seven.”

Busch has two 2019 starts left in trucks: at Texas Motor Speedway next week and Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

He said the chances are solid for going 5 for 5.

“I’d like to think Texas is a good place,” he said. “I think our guys have a good baseline. Charlotte is always one of my best tracks, favorite tracks and enjoy running there with the trucks, especially. There’s a good opportunity.

“It’s kind of an expectation (to win every race). We just go out, work hard and smart, and today we let the race play itself out and come to us.”

Busch won the 2009 Xfinity championship in the last season in which he ran full time in NASCAR’s top two series. He has focused solely on Cup full time since then, and NASCAR has changed rules over the past eight years limiting the ability to run for more than one title.

Despite 148 starts (and 54 victories), he is yet to run a full truck season, but the 2015 Cup champion has said he’d like to become the first driver to win a championship in each of NASCAR’s top three series.

Three Cup cars fail prerace inspection at Martinsville Speedway

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The cars of William Byron, DJ Kennington and Jeb Burton failed inspection Sunday morning at Martinsville Speedway.

Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet failed mechanical measurements. His sixth-place qualifying time will be disallowed, and he will have to start from the rear.

Kennington failed the OSS. He qualified 34th.

Burton had qualified 33rd.

The three cars will officially start behind those that passed inspection. Cars that qualified behind them will move up one spot.

The No. 24 suffered a right-front tire problem in the opening minutes of first practice Saturday morning, and the team made repairs to put the car back on track.

Today’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway: Start time, lineup, more

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MARTINSVILLE — High downforce could bring hot tempers to Martinsville Speedway, where today’s STP 500 will mark the first short track of the 2019 Cup schedule.

In the last visit to the 0.526-mile oval, Joey Logano bumped Martin Truex Jr. aside entering the last two corners in one of the most thrilling finishes of the 2018 season.

Here’s the pertinent information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Robert DeRidder, the senior vice president and general manager of Energizer Holdings Inc. (owners of STP), will give the command to start engines at 2:01 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:07 p.m.

PRERACE: The crew chief and drivers meeting is at noon. Driver introductions will begin at 1:20 p.m. The invocation will be given by track chaplain Mike Hatfield at 1:54 p.m. The 380th Army Band will perform the national anthem at 1:55 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (263 miles) around the 0.526-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 130. Stage 2 ends on Lap 260.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race. MRN’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast, which is also available at MRN.com.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 63 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: In a race delayed to Monday by a snowstorm, Clint Bowyer scored his first victory for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Busch finished second. Ryan Blaney placed third. Joey Logano won at Martinsville last fall. Denny Hamlin placed second. Martin Truex Jr. was third. 

TO THE REAR: William Byron (mechanical measurements), DJ Kennington (OSS) and Jeb Burton will start from the rear after failing inspection Sunday morning.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.