PENSACOLA, Fla. – Ty Majeski could hardly bring himself to be disappointed after Sunday night’s 51st annual Snowball Derby, despite coming up just short of the victory at Five Flags Speedway.
Majeski finished second to Noah Gragson in the crown jewel super late model event, crossing under the checkered flag .217 of a second behind the soon-to-be NASCAR Xfinity Series regular at the Florida half-mile.
The 24-year-old native of Seymour, Wis., said after the race that “all you can ask for is a shot to win the Derby,” and he certainly had that on the final six-lap shootout. He charged from sixth at the green flag to second behind Gragson and was closing on the eventual winner rapidly over the last two circuits.
“I was giving it all I had there,” Majeski said. “I think if we’d had one … or maybe two more laps, then the outcome might have been a little bit different and the race would have been pretty good. Congrats to Noah and everyone at KBM, though; they did a great job.
“I feel like we had them beat tonight,” added Majeski, who led 65 of the final 100 laps. “I feel like we had the field covered. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t finish it off and stand over in victory lane.”
A year ago at the Snowball Derby, Majeski started the race with a fast car but got behind on pit strategy and could never recover to challenge in the closing stages.
This time around, he didn’t even find the front of the field until lap 209, but once he did Majeski pulled out to nearly a four-second advantage before Burton came calling late in the going.
It was a complete reversal of his race from last December, even if it wasn’t by design at all.
“We just didn’t have the track position early. We started 18th, 19th there and had a pit crew that had never done a live stop before,” Majeski noted. “Their first stop was a little bit shaky, but their next two were exactly what we needed and helped to get us into contention. They really came through.
“All we needed was a little more time,” he reiterated. “We had all the pieces, I know that for sure.”
After climbing from his car, the first thing Majeski did was nudge longtime crew chief Toby Nuttleman and tell him that the No. 91 team had nothing to hang their heads about after a strong performance.
“To build a brand-new race car, come down here with essentially no laps on it and finish second … it’s a testament to all of these guys and all the work that they put in to making these cars fast,” Majeski said with a smile. “We may not have won this Snowball Derby, but they sure knew we were here.”
That’s a sentiment that both Majeski and Nuttleman can rest assured of.