BRISTOL, Tenn. — Ty Majeski has waited a long time for this moment.
He had his first NASCAR opportunity driving for Roush Fenway Racing in 2017 and 2018 when he made 15 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. But, despite three top-10 finishes, that never amounted to anything else.
In 2019, he raced just once. In 2021, he race just four times. He took a different route to try and make it in NASCAR. He went to work for ThorSport Racing — but as an engineer.
After hard work back in its Sandusky, Ohio shop, Majeski had an opportunity to race full-time in 2022.
Majeski’s had several chances to win throughout the season, and finally, he broke through with a victory at just the right time.
Majeski didn’t just win at Bristol Motor Speedway, one of the most respected and intimidating tracks on the NASCAR circuit. He did it to punch his ticket into the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway in November.
“There’s a lot of times where I thought it was potentially coming to an end,” Majeski said in a post-race press conference. “It’s just cool to finally get into victory lane. We’ve been so close throughout the season and no better time to execute and pull one off than the second round of the playoffs.
“There’s a lot of confusing emotions, for sure. It’s obviously been a long road. I’ve known in my heart I can succeed at this level.”
Majeski qualified for the race in sixth earlier on Thursday and finished Stage 1 there before falling to 13th at the end of Stage 2.
Chandler Smith won the first two stages and led 89 laps, but that didn’t matter in the end. Coming to a restart with 44 laps to go, Majeski took the lead from Zane Smith, runner-up, and ran with it. But on Lap 180, Dean Thompson crashed, setting up a late-race restart.
Majeski is used to situations like these but in late models. He doesn’t have a lot of experience trying to close races at the national level. However, he handled it like a seasoned pro. Majeski got a great jump and drove away, easing his way across the line with a 1.1-second victory.
“[On restarts], if you’re the bottom guy and you can get into [Turn] 1 side-by-side, the bottom is probably preferred,” Majeski said. “[Zane Smith] spun his tires a little bit [on the last restart] and maybe missed a shift or waited too long to shift. I heard him hit the chip.
“I knew once I got out front, we were going to be pretty tough to beat.”
Chandler Smith ended up finishing ninth, but earned 48 points to take the points lead from Zane Smith, who only earned 36 after starting from the rear.
“I guess it is an OK day,” Chandler Smith said. “We want to go to Talladega or Miami and win it, so we don’t have to worry about it. We had this one circled for us to win. I felt like we had a dominant truck. We had a really, really fast Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro tonight. Once we went stage racing, they played track position at the very end and the 66 (Ty Majeski) and 38 (Zane Smith) were able to get up front. Us and the 52 (Stewart Friesen) were the only two that passed all night.”
STAGE 1: Chandler Smith, Stewart Friesen, Derek Kraus, Matt DiBenedetto, Grant Enfinger, Ty Majeski, Christian Eckes, Corey Heim, Bayley Currey, Matt Crafton
STAGE 2: Chandler Smith, Stewart Friesen, Christian Eckes, Ben Rhodes, Taylor Gray, Chase Purdy, Tanner Gray, John Hunter Nemechek, Kaden Honeycutt, Zane Smith
FINAL: Ty Majeski, Zane Smith, Parker Kligerman, Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton, Derek Kraus, Stewart Friesen, Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith, Corey Heim
The Truck Series is off for two weeks until Saturday, October 1, when it travels to Talladega. The race is scheduled for 12;30 p.m. ET on FS1. Tate Fogleman won last year’s race.