Wisconsin is widely considered one of the hotbeds for Super Late Model racing in North America. That hotbed will now be represented for a second straight year during the 2019 Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway (CA) on February 1-2.
Seymour, Wisconsin star Ty Majeski (recently transplanted to Charlotte, North Carolina) will make his second Winter Showdown appearance at the high-speed, half-mile tri-oval in Bakersfield, California. The 24-year-old driver finished fourth at last year’s event in his first trip to Kern County Raceway, but he hopes to make a bigger splash in this year’s Showdown by securing a $30,000 check after 300 laps of competition.
After finishing fourth last year, Majeski is looking forward to returning to a facility that impressed the number-one pick in the 2016 Speed51.com Short Track Draft.
“The place is really nice facility and it’s the first time I had ever been there,” Majeski said. “The track is really awesome. It is really fast and has high grip and the facility is beautiful. It is one of the nicest facilities I have ever been to from the Late Model, short-track perspective. It is really cool to have a racetrack like that for Super Late Model guys to go race at.
“The event was really well-run, and it was really the first time I had really raced out west. It was a good first experience. Obviously, hindsight being 20-20, there are a few things I would go back and improve on, but we will exploit those this year and hopefully get ourselves a good run.”
Majeski won four consecutive ARCA Midwest Tour Series Super Late Model titles from 2013 to 2017. During that time, he scored 19 victories, which makes him the series all-time leader in wins. He set more than 20 fast times, which also puts him on top of the board. His 2018 schedule found him making only two appearances, but his presence was felt at the “Oktoberfest 200” at Lacrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. He set fast time and then crossed the finish line first before failing post-race inspection due to an intake height violation.
Majeski’s reason for not pursuing a fifth straight ARCA Midwest Tour title was due to his ascension to the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing. In 2017, Majeski participated in three events for RFR, finishing 10th in the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway (FL). Hi was set to participate in roughly one-third of the events for Rousch Racing in 2018; however, the three-driver team struggled, with Majeski scoring two of only five top-ten finishes for the team. It was a season that ultimately led to Roush Fenway Racing recently shutting down their NASCAR Xfinity Series program.
“Obviously, it was a difficult position for all three of us drivers being in and out of the car,” Majeski recalled. “It was especially difficult for Chase (Briscoe) and I. Austin (Cindric) was able to run the complete season with three different teams, but he was in the car every week which was beneficial. I wish I could have had that opportunity, but unfortunately, it just didn’t pan out that way. I feel like we made the best of what we could, and we took some positives away from the season.”
Majeski continued, “I certainly learned a lot and got better about giving feedback on these cars, in terms of what they need to feel like in practice, to be good in traffic and in the race. All that stuff will come with experience. Just to get 12 races under our belt and to get to some of these race tracks that I’ve never been to before, will shorten the learning curve for when I go back to them again.”
2018 wasn’t a total struggle for the talented 24-year-old racer. He began his winning ways with a victory at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in the Super Late Model division at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). Majeski then scored a win in the “Dells Icebeaker” at Dells Raceway Park (WI). He picked up two victories in his only two appearances at the Red, White and Blue State Championship Series held at Wisconsin International Raceway (WI). That all led into a prestigious victory in the “Slinger Nationals” at Slinger Speedway (WI) and a Super Late Model “Triple Crown Challenge” victory at Madison International Speedway (WI).
With another successful season in Super Late Models, Majeski headed to what many consider the most prestigious Super Late Model race in the country, the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL). With two prior third-place finishes, he was hopeful that a win could finally be his at the 51st annual event. Majeski came close after chasing down Noah Gragson following a late-race restart, but he had to settle for second best on that day in December.
“When you are that close to victory, it is a real bummer not to come out with a win, especially when we felt we had the best car on the second-to-last run,” Majeski commented. “We went to the lead and pulled away from the field. We came in (to pit) in a really good position, but our pit stop was a little slow, as the car wasn’t set up affably for the fastest speed on pit stops. But if we had had a couple of more laps, we could have won the thing. We will carry that momentum into Showdown weekend with the same car.”
Majeski will now head back to “America’s Richest Short Track Race” at Kern County Raceway. After finishing fourth last year, he will be one of the favorites for the victory in the $150,000 race.
In only its fifth season, the Winter Showdown has become one of the biggest Super Late Model races in the country. After last year’s experiences, Majeski feels he and the team will be in an improved position over 2018’s effort.
“I think we will be better,” he predicted. “Anytime you go to a place for the second time, you are going to be better than the first. We learned some stuff in that the place is so nice, even and smooth and that aerodynamics really matter there. We are working a little bit on that side of things. We bought a new car to the Derby and ran really well down there. We are bringing that car out to Kern County, so it will be the second race on the new car, and we are really excited to see where we stack up.”
A victory in the Winter Showdown would be a huge accomplishment for Majeski. It is an event that Team M Motorsports has put a lot of effort into, and they hope it will pay off with a big win. Majeski also hopes a win will keep him on the NASCAR radar this season.
“Anytime you can keep yourself relevant and in victory lane, it is a good thing,” Majeski said. “It would be a huge win. Obviously, we wanted to win the Snowball Derby, but Kern County is getting to be just as big of a race, so we are excited to go over there and put our name in the hat as a winner there. The whole team has done a great job of preparing for this race. We know what areas to focus on coming into the weekend, and hopefully we will be fast right off the truck.”
Majeski would like to continue the quest of his NASCAR career and work towards a partial schedule for this year. But the first weekend of February, he will be looking for a win at Kern County Raceway.
“I have been pursuing this as a career and that is what I want to do. We are working in many different directions to get at least a partial (NASCAR) schedule this year. We will see what happens, but for now we are focused on Kern. Hopefully we can put it in Victory Lane and keep myself relevant.”
Making the trip from Wisconsin to California takes a lot of help, and Majeski is thankful to those who have assisted him with the journey in his Lefthander Chassis, McGunegill Racing Engines Super Late Model.
“I would really like to thank iRacing, Ken’s Sports and NAPA Auto Parts Cheyenne for helping us get to Bakersfield for the Winter Showdown,” Majeski said. “I am also really thankful for my car owners, Brad and Nancy Mannstedt, for everything they have done for me, in providing the opportunities for me to participate in events like this.”
The 2019 Winter Showdown will get underway with an optional practice day on Thursday, January 31. The Super Late Models will then have two practice sessions on Friday, February 1. “Winter Showdown Qualifying controlled by Traffic Management Inc.” will follow, which will lock the top-30 into the feature race. Those drivers outside the top-30 and not receiving provisionals will participate in the “Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse Last Chance Race” to round out the 36-car “SPEARS Manufacturing Winter Showdown 300” field.
Friday night will also feature qualifying and the Motor City GMC Super Stock Showdown, featuring two 30-lap segments for the Kern County Raceway Super Stocks. The SPEARS Manufacturing Modified Series will also be on hand for practice and a 20-lap All-Star Race.
Saturday February 2 will open with the SPEARS Manufacturing Modified Series practice, followed by qualifying. The Modifieds will then race for 75 laps in the “51 FIFTY Energy Drink Showdown,” followed by the $150,000 5th Annual SPEARS Manufacturing Winter Showdown 300 for Super Late Models.
For a complete schedule, go to: https://www.srlsouthwesttour.com/winter-showdown/.
-Story by: Kevin Peters, SRL
-Photo credit: Speed51.com