What would you do to win the Snowball Derby?
If you were Ty Majeski and Derek Thorn, the answer was everything just short of blatantly wrecking each other, and both are accomplished enough racers that knew the line they weren’t going to cross on Sunday afternoon.
Majeski and Thorne took the green flag with five laps to go on lap 297, a byproduct of a longstanding rule that ensures the race must end with five nonconsecutive green flag laps.
The No. 91 had just taken the lead two laps before the penultimate caution and was the control car for the final two restarts, an outcome that ultimately won Majeski the race, as he was able to take the bottom against Thorn.
That didn’t prevent Thorn from briefly taking the lead from the outside, albeit with the help from a door slam, that allowed Majeski to respond with the bumper in the following corner.
Congrats on the win in a stacked field!
— Bruce Nuttleman (@BruceNuttleman) December 7, 2020
Again side-by-side, the two drivers held each other close, more contact racing for the biggest win of the year. Majeski cleared Thorn with two laps to go and wouldn’t allow the No. 43 to get any closer. Thorn tried on two different occasions to drive as deep into the corner as possible to move the leader back out of the way, but the attempts were unsuccessful.
Majeski earned redemption from the previous year’s Snowball Derby and Thorn was left wondering what else he could have done following two consecutive poles in the biggest race of the year.
“I’m going to replay that one for each of the next 364 days,” Thorn said.
What are the ethics when the Tom Dawson Trophy is at stake?
“To me, bumpers are okay in a race like this,” Majeski said. It’s so hard to be in a position like this, year after year, and if you’re in position, you have to take advantage of it. You don’t know when the next time will be that you’ll be in position to win this race.
“That’s how tough this race is. How good all these race car drivers are. When that opportunity is there, it’s gloves’ off.”
For his part, Thorn says it was so much more than those final laps.
“It wasn’t those final laps, or the 300 laps today,” Thorn said. “It’s the 18 days the truck drivers are gone and the 10 days we’re gone from our families.
“It’s the Snowball Derby. It’s Ty Majeski. He had to do what he had to do, and I had to do what I had to. Unfortunately, those last set of tires didn’t cooperate as well as it could have.”
Stephen Nasse was penalized for contact that sent Bubba Pollard around at the end of the Snowflake 100, and that certainly played a factor in the door slamming on the straightaways.
“You can’t wreck a guy because you’ll go to the back anyway,” Thorn said. “It’s a fine line, you have to know who you’re racing. Majeski wasn’t afraid to put the bumper on me. If I would have flopped and spun out, we both would have went to the back. So just have to race a guy hard, get track position and have a little bit of luck.”
Meanwhile, Chase Elliott in third on that restart was given every opportunity to get in the mix, but just didn’t have enough.
“They gave me every opportunity to join them,” he said.
On the penultimate restart, Elliott was able to capitalize on restarting on the inside of Row 2, briefly taking second from Thorn but wasn’t able to retain it. Then a caution came out inside the final 15 laps due to a Boris Jurkovic crash that set up the final restart.
Did Elliott see anything that was unethical in that battle.
“Nah, they both finished,” Elliott said. They crossed the line, so. This is such an argument that people will have forever, so it doesn’t matter what my opinion is. At the end of the day, you’re going to have racing and sometimes there will be wrecking and people will get mad.
“They both put on a good race, they both finished, and I think Ty Majeski is a deserving winner. To me, when you think of the guys who haven’t won the Tom Dawson yet and should have one, he’s right at the top of the list so I was happy to see him accomplish it.”