Over the course of the last year and a half nobody in Short Track Racing has been hotter than Ty Majeski. Whether he’s in Wisconsin, or in Florida or anywhere in between, Majeski has been winning races and solidifying himself as one of the top drivers in Super Late Model racing.
The Wisconsin native has also been saying and doing the right things in the hopes of some day moving into the highest levels of stock car racing. Now it appears that the hard work is finally starting to pay off for the number-one pick in the 2016 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes.
On Monday afternoon Majeski announced through a press release that he has signed a driver development contract with Roush Fenway Racing. As part of the development process, Majeski will be making close to five starts in the ARCA Racing Series with Roulo Brothers Racing.
Majeski said the program is the same as the one Roush Fenway used to develop Chris Beuscher who is now racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Beuscher won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship one year ago.
“Me and Gary Roulo started talking at the beginning of 2015,” Majeski told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He watched me race at Illiana and he talked to me in the pits after and planted the seed a little bit. We kept talking through the 2015 season and had a few meetings after Oktoberfest and we slowly but surely put the deal together. Then we met with Roush Fenway and they wanted to be on board with it as well, so it all just kind of came together mid-winter of 2015.”
Majeski said he has had other opportunities in the past for a spot start here and there in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and in the Camping World Truck Series, but he said he wanted to hold out for something a little bit more concrete. He added that he felt ARCA was the best direction to go for a very specific reason.
“We thought the ARCA stuff was a little bit better of an option, mainly because they’re on a radial tire and K&N East is not,” he said. “ARCA is more of a stepping stone. You get to go to the bigger tracks like Daytona to a mile-and-a-half like Kansas or Chicago, and I can start out on the short tracks that I’m familiar with to kind of shorten the learning process.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series runs on a bias-ply tire, while the ARCA Racing Series runs on a radial tire similar to the tires used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series.
Majeski said that while his ARCA schedule isn’t 100-percent set in stone, he said his first race will most likely be on a short track, and one that he’s quite familiar with.
“I think the first race is going to end up being Madison,” said Majeski, who won an ARCA Midwest Tour race at Madison just over a week ago in a Super Late Model. “We wanted to start off on the short tracks and then maybe go run a bigger track like Iowa and then go run a mile and a half like Chicago or Kansas. So that’s kind of the current plan as far as developing me and moving this thing forward.”
At 21 years old, Majeski is already starting to near the point in which some in the industry may label him “too old” to make it to the big leagues. The two-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion, and inaugural Kulwicki Driver Development Program champion said he’s thought about how this could be his one shot and admitted that he sometimes feels pressure as a result.
“It goes back and forth,” he said. “At the end of the day I can’t rush myself because if I rush myself then there’s a better chance of me blowing up any opportunity that I do get. So we really wanted to come up with a program that would develop me. Not just run one truck race for (someone). We really wanted to develop me, and that’s how we think we’ll get longevity in the sport.
“You see guys like Daniel Hemric and some other guys that came a little later. Brad Keselowski came in a little bit later and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did as well. I think a few years ago you saw guys coming in around 18 when Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were coming through. But I think now it’s switching back. I think they want some older, more mature racers, and I think that will play right into my hands.”
The biggest thing Majeski wants to do in these first few ARCA starts is learn. If a win comes, then that’s great, but Majeski’s focus will be on gaining as much experience as possible.
“I need to get used to this heavier car and this radial tire and live pit stops. All of this stuff is new to me,” he said. “The only time I’ve ever done live pit stops was at the Snowball Derby. I’ve never been on a mile-and-a-half track before. I’ve never experienced that aero before and racing with air in the car. That’s going to be different for me. So I’m just going to go out there and learn as much as I can. I’ve got great sources in Roush Fenway. I have a lot of guys I can lean on there and I can go down there to do pit stop practice. All of that stuff helps build up my ability to ultimately race on Sunday some day.”
The other thing Majeski wants to do is try to appreciate the chance he has, and the journey he’s taken just to get this chance. A couple of years ago Majeski was a relatively unknown driver competing in the Midwest. After scoring 19 wins in 2015, Majeski became the top prospect in the short track world.
“Two years ago I never would have dreamed that I’d be the top prospect when I watched the Short Track Draft when I wasn’t a part of it,” Majeski said. “I expected to not be in it because I hadn’t done anything then. Three years ago I didn’t even have a Super Late Model program together. Then in 2014 we won the (Midwest Tour) championship, backed it up in 2015 and we’re off to an even better 2016. Never would I thought I’d be in this position, but I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve gotten for sure.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com