On a day that the area surrounding Kern County Raceway was without electricity, Ty Majeski turned in his own "lights out" performance during the 5th Annual Winter Showdown. Majeski was named the official winner of the $32,500-to-win race after officials were forced to call the race due to darkness.
Majeski took the lead from Preston Peltier for the final time on Lap 117 and dominated until darkness forced officials to bring the cars to pit road on Lap 172. At that time, a one-hour countdown was given for power to be restored. When that countdown reached zero, Majeski was declared the race winner.
"I didn’t know how the strategy was going to play out if we went back green or the lights came back on," Majeski told Speed51.com. "I was skeptical in thinking about our strategy and trying to anticipate what we were going to do if the lights came back on. I’ll tell you those were the longest minutes right there waiting to get the official word.”
Only eight minutes after celebrating Majeski celebrated in a victory lane surrounded by headlights, power was restored at the Bakersfield, California facility.
“I was making phone calls. I wanted somebody to go up there and cut the wires," he joked after the lights came back on. "Like I said, I had my fingers crossed. We want to come out here and run all 300 laps but being in that position we wanted to take home the big payday. It means a lot for our team. We have the budget to come out here and do things right and go to the Derby and do things right, but this does a lot for our program.”
Jeremy Doss, the polesitter and 2018 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion, led all but one of the first 99 laps while fending off fierce challenges from Majeski and Peltier.
Following pit stops on Lap 115, numerous contenders including Doss, Tyler Ankrum and Derek Kraus were involved in a massive pileup on the frontstretch during the ensuing restart. Once the track was clear and the green flag waved again, Majeski rocketed past Peltier into the lead on Lap 117.
“We weren’t so good the first run. Obviously, the sun was out and it was during the day," said the Seymour, Wisconsin driver. "We were just too free. Those other guys, we could beat them in the center but they just had more forward drive than us. As the sun went down and the temperature went down, the track really came to us. They tightened up more and we gained some grip. We had a pretty good run there with the 75 (Jeremy Doss). I feel that towards the end of that run we were probably the best car before everyone pitted. Peltier was pretty good as well. We were kind of matching lap times there. Once we put the next set of tires on and made a really good adjustment on pit road, this thing was lights out from there.”
Derek Thorn, the 2017 Winter Showdown winner, battled in the top five throughout the race before finishing second.
Peltier, who was piloting Rowdy Manufacturing chassis No. 001, battled for the lead on numerous occasions but ultimately settled for a third-place finish.
“It was definitely wild. I was just telling my guys that I felt like these guys didn’t really have a whole lot of respect in this race,” Peltier said. “You’re early on in the race and they’re running you tight like you’re running for a win. I don’t really understand that, but hey that’s cool. I felt like we raced everybody really clean. It took a long time to work those guys and get by them. That thing had such incredible long-run speed, that Rowdy Manufacturing No. 001. It was there. It was incredible. I’ll tell you, it’s the best equipment I’ve ever strapped in to.”
Prior to cars being led down pit road on Lap 172, Peltier elected to pit for tires not knowing that the race would be halted due to the darkness. After lengthy review by officials, he was credited with the third-place finish.
Tennessee native Willie Allen and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series winner Ryan Reed completed the top five.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com