Each year, football fans throughout the world stay glued to their television screens waiting to see who will be the number-one pick in the NFL Draft. The same can be said for the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes.
In both drafts, there are some years in which the eventual number one pick is somewhat obvious. But there are also the years in which nobody knows what to expect and speculation runs high.
When it comes to the Short Track Draft, 2016 is one of those years in which there is no clear-cut number one pick. Throughout the 2015 season and early on in the 2016 season, a number of short track racers turned in performances that garnered first-place votes from Speed51.com’s panel of industry experts.
After tallying the votes made by the panel of 38 experts, including a fan vote, it’s now time to get down to business and announce the number-one pick in the 2016 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes.
In the closest tally in the history of the draft, Super Late Model racer Ty Majeski, from Seymour, Wisconsin has been selected as the number one pick in the 2016 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com.
Majeski received 17 first-place votes from the panel of voters, which included NASCAR drivers, crew chiefs, team managers and spotters, media members from the short track and national series levels and industry experts from both dirt and asphalt disciplines.
“It’s such an honor,” said Majeski upon hearing his name called as the top draft pick. “Going back through the history of Speed51, I’ve been following it since I started racing a Super Late Model. It’s a good judgement to see how you progress as a driver. It’s so huge to be recognized these days, and me being from the Midwest, some say it’s a little bit hard to do. It’s cool to see that my accomplishments get recognized at the national level.”
Two years ago, Majeski’s name didn’t even crack the list of the top-51 draft picks in the 2014 Short Track Draft. He increased his stock tremendously in 2015 and was selected as the 11th pick in the draft.
Looking back on how he’s been able to go from not even being on the ballot to being the first pick in the draft, Majeski credits it all to his team owners, Brad and Nancy Mannstedt, for giving him a shot.
“My car owners Brad and Nancy Mannstedt gave me my big break,” he said. “I had kind of plateaued and we weren’t in the best equipment. I wasn’t winning any races and they saw me, and saw what I do and saw how hands on I was with the race cars. They gave me a shot.”
At the age of 21 years old, Majeski has recently earned the moniker of being Super Late Model racing’s hottest driver. Over the course of the 2015 season, Majeski earned 19 victories in Super Late Model competition, including five wins on the ARCA Midwest Tour en route to claiming his second straight tour championship.
When the racing season was over in the Midwest region, Majeski made his way south to battle the top names in Super Late Model racing. He proved he could win anywhere by defeating a stout group of racers during the Florida Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), a race which earned him recognition on Twitter from Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Then, with the short track racing world watching, Majeski set the Five Flags Speedway (FL) track record during Super Late Model qualifying for the Snowball Derby before finishing third in the prestigious race.
“Nothing against the Midwest, but traveling down and racing against all of those guys in the Southeast completely boosted my career to a whole new level,” stated Majeski. “The Midwest is awesome and there’s a ton of great competition up there, but the fact of the matter is racing is in the Southeast. To go down there and perform the way we did, you don’t see a lot of people from the Midwest do that. It definitely says a lot about our team and what our potential is. Dale Jr. wouldn’t have ever recognized me if I never went down there and performed like we did.”
Majeski’s impressive performance in the state of Florida didn’t end there. He and his Toby Nuttleman-led crew made their way back to the Sunshine State in February for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Throughout the eight-day event, Majeski turned in one of the most impressive performances the Super Late Model division has ever seen during Florida Speedweeks. In six races, Majeski didn’t record a finish worse than second. He won three of the six races including the 100-lap finale on his way to securing the 2016 Super Late Model championship.
“New Smyrna, especially at Speedweeks, has a reputation of getting a little bit rough at times because they’re short 35-lap features or quick dashes,” explained Majeski. “It was definitely cool to go down there and keep the nose clean for six nights in a row and perform like we did.”
Despite his success at the end of the 2015 season and his hot start to the 2016 campaign in Florida, many still wondered if he had what it took to win “the big race.” The Wisconsin native answered that question in March by turning in a dominating performance and winning the prestigious Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway.
In addition to his performance on the track, Majeski showed that he had all the tools needed to be successful by pocketing a hefty $54,439 as the inaugural Kulwicki Driver Development Program champion.
The KDDP, established in memory of the late Alan Kulwicki, rewarded members of their program for on-track performance and off-track representation. Majeski was lauded by the program’s advisory board judges for taking the organization’s mission to another level when he started his own driver development program for young go-kart racers.
“You have to be attractive to sponsors these days,” said Majeski about the importance of off-track representation. “You’re not going to get anywhere in racing without a sponsor behind you. That’s becoming extremely important to me. I try to be as professional as I can no matter what situation I’m thrown into. You need to take the high road; that’s one thing I’ve always tried to do. I feel like I’ve done a pretty decent job at that. I’m just working on my speaking skills, interviewing skills and going to the race track to meet new people.”
That type of off-track representation, coupled with his terrific on-track performance over the last 12 months, have earned Majeski the right to call himself one of 13 drivers to ever be selected as the number one pick in the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes.
Want to find out who Majeski narrowly beat out in the 2016 Short Track Draft? Selections 2-10 will be announced Friday on Speed51.com at 9 a.m. ET. Selections 11-25 will be announced that same night at 5 p.m.
The remainder of the top-51 picks will be released Monday at 5 p.m. ET and the “Best of the Rest” selections will be revealed on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
– By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
– Photo credits: Speed51.com