Ty Majeski’s road in NASCAR has been bumpy at best, but if he ever needs a shot of confidence, he can find it in the seat of the No. 91 Super Late Model he drove into national prominence over the past half-dozen years.
Majeski is back behind the wheel at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway this weekend, looking to defend his Oktoberfest 200 title – to win a third overall – and add another big event to a list of wins that includes the Rattler 250, Slinger Nationals and Dixieland 250 this season.
“It’s a testament to the whole team that we haven’t raced a lot but have been able to show up and compete at a very high level with guys who race every week,” said Majeski, who’s unsure of his future with Niece Motorsports in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. “We have less opportunities to make our cars better when we race less. I’m very honored to be in this position to be able to come back and race these super-late models that are competitive anywhere in the country.”
Majeski set himself up as the man to beat again Saturday in qualifying (18.540 seconds), topping 2018 Oktoberfest winner Andrew Morrissey (18.591), youngsters Gabe Sommers (18.653) and Skylar Holzhausen (18.686) and 1986 winner Rich Bickle (18.690).
The top 16 qualifiers were locked into the field and four drivers raced their way in through nighttime qualifying races. The lineup will be completed through a last-chance race and provisionals Sunday. With the top 12 qualifiers inverted for the start, Jason Weinkauf and Chad Butz share the front row for the 200.
“Our shop is 2 miles from here, most of my crew grew up racing here every Saturday night, dug their teeth into racing,” Majeski said of the Toby Nuttleman-led team owned by Brad and Nancy Mannstedt. “And now we’ve become a great Super Late Model race team and beyond that a big family. An awesome ride, and anytime we can come to their home track and perform well, it feels good and means a lot to us.”
Other drivers high on the list of possible challengers include four-time winner Dan Fredrickson, who finished second last year; NASCAR truck champion Johnny Sauter, the 2017 winner; and Casey Johnson, always a threat in his home state. Sauter will have his work cut out, though, after making the feature through the qualifying features.
“Ideally you just want to have a couple of tenths on the field, drive away, put on your tires at halfway and drive off into the sunset. But it never works out that way,” said Majeski, 26, a native of Seymour, Wis.
“Obviously strategy is going to play a big role, how early is too early to put those two (tires) on and how late is too late. Ideally you get a caution on Lap 120 with about 80 to go and you know at that point everyone’s coming down. You get to that point when you’re 110 to 90 to go, is that too early? That’s the game that’s going to be played and it just depends on where the yellows fall.”
That strategy is what cost Fredrickson the opportunity to tie late Midwest legend Joe Shear with a record fifth Oktoberfest title.
“We get some cautions and some bigger wrecks in the middle of the race here for some reason, but once we get to probably 125, 130 it’s usually pretty green after that,” said Fredrickson, who qualified seventh-fastest. “With the exception of last year. Last year was a disaster at the end.
“Most people last year pitted a little early, I thought. I waited and pitted at the end, and they burned up 80 percent of the laps that were left under yellow. So I was stuck in the back with new tires and got to second.”
Adding a degree of difficulty is that 17 classes racing from Wednesday to Sunday put all sorts of rubber on the track, which makes finding the right setup a bit of a moving target.
“You get devastated some times one way or another with your car,” Fredrickson said, “but once we run 20 or 30 laps, I feel like the track is what it’s going to be.”
Michael Ostdiek of Lakeville, Minn., won the first qualifying race and NASCAR truck rookie Derek Kraus of Wausau, Wis., held on as the second driver to advance.
Sauter pulled away from the pole to win the second 12-lapper, and John DeAngelis Jr. held off R.J. Braun to advance.
“I see Johnny sucked at time trials again, which he’s done that three or four times in the last few year and miraculously is dynamite at the end of the race,” Fredrickson said. “I expect him to do well.”
Paul Schaefer of Portage, Ind., drove away from the field in the first of two eight-car, eight-laps dashes that paid ARCA Midwest Tour points. Series leader and defending champion Casey Johnson of Edgerton, Wis., held off Jonathan Eilen in the second one.
- Ty Majeski
- Andrew Morrissey
- Gabe Sommers
- Skylar Holzhausen
- Rich Bickle Jr
- Jonathan Eilen
- Dan Fredrickson
- Justin Mondeik
- Ryan Farrell
- Dillon Hammond
- Chad Butz
- Jason Winkauf
- Bobby Kendall
- Jacob Goede
- Paul Shafer Jr
- Casey Johnson
- Michael Ostdiek
- Johnny Sauter
- Matthew Henderson
- Johnny De Angelis
- Derek Kraus
- RJ Braun
- Brock Heinrich
- Austin Nason
- Dean LaPointe
- Billy Mohn
- Brady Bill
- Brent Kirchner
- Brent Yackey
- Harley Jankowski
- Bradley Tilton
- Andrew Brocker