Sure, he set fast time and gladly accepted the Oktoberfest 200 “ultimate challenge” for the opportunity to more than double his payday — meaning Ty Majeski’s confidence was relatively high — but he wasn’t having the greatest week overall.
Then the he got a gift.
Involved in a three-way battle for the lead with Johnny Sauter and Andrew Morrissey — also past winners of the event — Majeski was sitting third with 37 laps to go Sunday at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
“We had a great race car, and obviously Johnny was holding us up,” said Majeski, who had given up second to Morrissey a few laps earlier. “It’s incredibly hard to make run on somebody when you have someone else on you. You can’t use the whole racetrack. You have to protect it because you don’t want to get passed. That made it difficult for me to make a pass on Johnny, and I got a little bit free off and that’s all it takes. Andrew got in there, and I didn’t race him real hard.
“I kind of just wanted to see what Andrew had and see if he could get around Johnny and hopefully follow Andrew through and ultimately race him for the win. Of course, it worked a lot better than that.”
Pressure turned into contact, Sauter spun around in Turn 4, Morrissey was sent to the back for his involvement and Majeski was right where he wanted to be.
The 26-year-old from Seymour headed for a sweep of three of the biggest asphalt super-late model events in his home state in one season, following the Slinger Nationals (Slinger Speedway) in July and Dixieland 250 (Wisconsin International Raceway) in August.
Majeski, a four-time champion on the ARCA Midwest Tour, now has three Oktoberfest 200 titles (2016, 2019, 2020) and lost another (2018) in inspection. By taking the “ultimate challenge” and starting last in the field of 28 after being the fastest qualifier, this one was worth $11,300.
“When you have that kind of payday on the line, I was willing to do whatever it took to try to get in victory lane,” said Majeski, who has an uncertain future in NASCAR but as close to a sure thing as possible when he gets into the No. 91 Super Late Model owned by Brad and Nancy Mannstedt and prepared by Toby Nuttleman. “It’s huge for any super-late model team at this level to come up with that kind of money. It goes a lot toward the next race and whatever else.”
Rich Bickle, the 1986 Oktoberfest winner, finished second, 1.835 seconds behind. His best chance would have been a quick move on the final restart with 31 laps to go or one more caution.
“I thought Ty went to the outside on that last restart and I should have went to the outside,” said Bickle, who lined up fifth, with Majeski and Fredrickson on the front row and Holzhausen and Mondeik in the second. “I screwed myself by not being out there because I had to take 10, 12 laps to get around (Mondeik) again and burned my shit up again.
“I thought we had the car to beat because our lap times were two-tenths better than everyone else and I was pretty much in ‘stroll’ mode and went in the wrong lane.”
Morrissey, the 2018 champion, rallied back to finish third ahead of Dan Fredrickson and Justin Mondeik.
“We can hold our heads high,” Morrissey said. “We’re living proof you don’t need a hundred thousand dollar race car to run up front.
“Last few laps, would have been nice to have a caution there at the end, but I guess we’ll take third given the circumstance. We had a bad fast race car all weekend, so it’s disappointing not to get the win, but we’ll take what we got.”
It’s not to say Majeski wouldn’t have won without the help of Morrissey and Sauter.
It took him all of 10 laps to get to 12th, where he would have started — without accepting the challenge but with the invert — and he moved to the lead after 84 when Morrissey and Mondeik pitted. After his own stop, Majeski was fifth on a restart to go with 76 to go. He didn’t look as strong as he had earlier, but at that point he didn’t need to either.
Sauter was leading but slipping. Morrissey was faster but had a tough competitor ahead.
“I’ve got to say, I was ready for it,” Majeski said. “I was ready to be on the binders, make sure I didn’t get caught up in it.”
Explained Morrissey: “I went through 3 and 4 the same I did every other lap, picked the gas up in the same spot, and I think he got a little out of shape before I got him, had to get out of the gas and then I hit him. Just a racing deal, I guess.”
“There’s no doubt I was working hard and there’s no doubt he took us out, but listen, I take people out too; that’s racing,” said Sauter, who finished ninth. “I’m not a crybaby like a lot of guys are.”
Fredrickson got a good jump on the restart, but Majeski got back around and led the final 26 laps.
Majeski struggled in some of the other preliminary events — including a flat tire on the truck he ran in the “Crateoberfest” race Sunday for various vehicles with 602 crate engines — making the Oktoberfest Race Weekend frustrating at times. But he peaked with the western Wisconsin fall colors again when it really mattered.
“All of my team members grew up racing at this racetrack,” Majeski said, “and it’s cool to defend our home turf.”
- Ty Majeski
- Rich Bickle Jr
- Andrew Morrissey
- Dan Fredrickson
- Justin Mondeik
- Skylar Holzhausen
- Casey Johnson
- Gabe Sommers
- Johnny Sauter
- Jonathan Eilen
- Dillon Hammond
- John DeAngelis
- Matthew Henderson
- RJ Braun
- Chad Butz
- Jason Weinkauf
- Austin Nason
- Ryan Farrell
- Derek Kraus
- Dean LaPointe
- Brady Bill
- Billy Mohn
- Paul Shafer Jr
- Brent Kirchner
- Brock Heinrich
- Michael Ostdiek
- Jacob Goede
- Bobby Kendall