The trophy looks the same. The check is for the same amount.
However, Ty Majeski’s win in the 2017 Rattler 250 tells a vastly different story than his previous triumph.
Majeski grabbed the lead for the first time all day from Harrison Burton on a restart with just 19 laps to go on Sunday afternoon. In 2016, Majeski dominated the race, leading all but eight laps en route to his far marquee win in the Deep South.
“We definitely didn’t have the car to win all day,” Majeski told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We were not in the race track quite where we needed to be. We weren’t the best car today, and probably shouldn’t have won. But in my opinion, those are the days that define you as a team and as a driver. When you win races you shouldn’t, they are always special.
While Majeski and Burton were the dogs, Jeff Choquette played the role of the rabbit early on. Choquette led the first 211 laps – the second most amount in event history – but saw Garret Jones and Burton pounce on him following the competition caution at lap 200.
Jones restarted third, and made the most of his four new sticker tires by going right after Choquette. The two waged a tremendous battle for the lead before Jones slipped by on the inside. However, Jones’ stay out front was short lived, as Burton wrestled the lead away from Jones just a lap later.
Burton appeared to be on the way to another win in dominant first quarter of the 2017 season, but botched the restart with less than 20 to go.
“I had a lot of crap on my tires and need to do a better job cleaning them off,” Burton explained. “I just couldn’t get going, and it took me too long to get back up to speed. Once the car came back, we were really fast. It’s just a heartbreaker.”
The “friendly” rivalry between Majeski and Burton wrote another chapter Sunday afternoon. The two young drivers combined to win three races at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in New Smyrna. With Burton winning SpeedFest and Majeski bagging the Rattler, they now have chalked up the two biggest early-season Super Late Model races in the Deep South.
Majeski said he enjoys racing with Burton, and has a lot of respect for him.
“He is really fast lately, and has been for a couple of years,” Majeski said of his rival. “They really picked up their game when they got their new Fury car, and were probably better than us again today. We’re close, but not where we want to be. Harrison is one of the best every week right now.”
Burton paid the same respect to Majeski.
“Both the teams, the 91 and the 12, work really hard all the time,” Burton said. “They always bring us good cars to the track. I got to know Ty a little bit through NASCAR Next. Everyone wants to beat everyone, but I think we might want to be each other even more.”
For the second night in a row, Choquette was left thinking what might have been. After leading more than half the race in Saturday’s Baby Rattler, he suffered a mechanical issue while leading. In Sunday’s race, he simply lost the handle late in the going.
“We got the lead early and led all the way until lap 200-and-something,” Choquette said. “The only thing we changed was to put four tires on it. We went from leading by a straightaway to a straightaway behind. That is just one aspect of the racing that you can’t control. You can make all the adjustments you want, but if those four tires don’t go, there is nothing you can do.
With the win, Majeski puts his name among some of the elite in South Alabama Speedway. He becomes just the second driver to win back-to-back Rattlers, and only the fourth driver in the history of the event to win more than one 250.
When told, he entered a list with the likes of Ronnie Sanders and Grant Enfinger, Majeski was humbled.
“This is one of the premier Super Late Model races in the country every year,” Majeski said. “The best teams and best drivers in the country come together for this race, and have for a long time. It was really special to win it one time, and to come back down here and win it again makes it even better.”
Race fans who were unable to watch Sunday's Rattler can watch the race on-demand anytime on Speed51.com.
On-demand updates of the race are also available on Speed51.com's Trackside Now coverage presented by JRi Shocks.
-By Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Deep South Correspondent - Twitter: @RyanLMcCollough
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Rattler 250 Unofficial Results
|18||71||John Van Dourn|
|20||7S||Paul Shafer Jr|
|21||81||Derek Scott Jr|