Ty Majeski celebrated a golden victory Sunday at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, defeating some of the toughest Super Late Model competition in the Midwest to win the 50th Oktoberfest 200 for the ARCA Midwest Tour.
Majeski bided his time throughout the event, exchanging the lead frequently with Erik Darnell before taking the lead for good on a late restart with less than 20 laps to go. It was all part of the plan for the Seymour, Wisconsin native, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.
“Any time you come to Oktoberfest and run the 200-lapper, these are some of the best guys in the country,” Majeski said. “This car was really good. I didn’t show my cards really early. I know the 7 car [of Darnell] was pushing harder than I thought too early. I was biding my time behind him and saving my stuff for that last restart at the end.”
Majeski was challenged throughout the race by Darnell, as well as Dan Fredrickson, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion Jacob Goede and ARCA Midwest Tour title contender Casey Johnson. Managing his race while competing with so many challengers, all with varying pit strategies over the 200-lap race, was no easy feat.
“There’s a fine line there. My plan was to really ride in third behind maybe Danny [Fredrickson] and the 7, but the 72 [of Goede] and 47 [of Johnson] were pushing a little harder than I wanted, I didn’t want to lose that much track position.
“Thankfully, it worked out. I know Dan tried a different pit strategy. Fortunately, it went our way today.”
Fredrickson finished second after setting quick time in qualifying, nearly breaking his own LaCrosse track record. An alternate pit strategy gave Fredrickson fresher tires in the closing laps, but a string of late cautions thwarted his charge through the field.
“I lost two races already by putting tires on too early. I put them on late this time, burned up half the laps under yellow, and then it wasn’t double-file on the last restart, so I don’t know what to say. The car is a hot rod, Ty’s guys got one, but we had a piece here today.”
Erik Darnell, formerly a full-season competitor at the NASCAR National level, doesn’t get to race as often these days. However, he showed he was plenty up to the task on Sunday, leading for much of the 200-lap feature before coming home third.
“For my one race of the year I think I had a pretty good outing,” Darnell said. “Huge thanks to Chris Wimmer, Wimmer Motorsports, these guys put together a heck of a car. To come out here and do what I did on the limited schedule I race, I’m pretty happy about it. The two guys who beat me are two of the very best, so I don’t feel too bad about it.”
With a fifth-place finish, Casey Johnson secured the ARCA Midwest Tour championship over Austin Nason in a hard-fought battle. Johnson had to play it smart throughout the event, keeping the title picture in focus.
“We just had to race smart at the end,” Johnson said. “Austin tried some pit strategy there and we gave him a lot of track position. When Danny started coming with fresh tires, he gave me a break earlier, I gave it back.”
Johnson knew it would be a hard but clean battle with Nason for the title, having competed with the Illinois driver for races and titles dating back to their days in the Big 8 Late Model Series, where Johnson was champion in 2013 and 2014.
“Me and Austin came through the ranks together. We raced for a Big 8 Championship the same way, coming in here with a slim point gap. We can always race good together. HE qualified seventh, I’m eighth or vice versa. We go back and forth and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun but it’s definitely nerve-wracking.”
Race fans who missed Sunday’s Oktoberfest 200 can watch an on-demand replay of the Speed51 broadcast of the race by clicking here.
Fans can also view Speed51’s Race Day Now updates of the event by clicking here.
|16||7D||John DeAngelis, Jr.|
|22||7S||Paul Shafer, Jr.|
|23||45||Rich Bickle, Jr.|
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo