WEST SALEM, Wis. – Using a somewhat planned, methodical march to the front, Ty Majeski captured the ARCA Midwest Tour 200 super late model race that highlighted the 50th annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Majeski, the 25-year-old driver from Seymour, Wis., who has been a dominant presence in late model racing for the past five years or so, drove his Toby Nuttleman-prepared Ford Fusion to the win at the five-eighths mile paved oval, scoring the second Oktoberfest 200 victory of his career – the first coming in 2016.
Working hard to become a full-time racer in NASCAR competition, Majeski started 11th in the 28-car field after qualifying fourth fastest earlier in the morning. Saturday’s Oktoberfest racing was completely rained out with Sunday’s program featuring some six hours of racing.
Young Carson Kvapil jumped into the lead at the start from his front row pole starting position. The early laps had Kvapil showing the way, being chased by Erik Darnell, Gabe Sommers, Jacob Goede and Mathew Henderson with Majeski seventh. Slowly but surely, Majeski seemed to take his time, moving up a position after position, getting into the top five and then third.
Kvapil was the race leader until experiencing a steering problem and getting high up against the wall in turn two to bring out the race’s second caution flag. Darnell inherited the top spot only to see Majeski take the lead after a double-file restart.
Darnell got by Majeski to secure the lead and held it until the mid-race mandatory pit stop. It was the same story on the restart – Majeski taking the lead with Darnell quickly coming back into the number one position.
With the race winding down, a number of yellow flags flew with the red flag even being displayed for a major track cleanup. On a restart with less than 20 laps to go, Majeski raced by Darnell for the lead. Dan Fredrickson was on the move using a different pit/tire strategy to propel him to the front.
A single file restart with 10 laps or so to go saw Majeski out front with Fredrickson cutting his way past cars and eventually finishing second behind Majeski with Darnell coming home third and Jonathan Eilen fourth.
A fifth place finish gave Casey Johnson enough points for him to win the ARCA Midwest Tour series championship. Last year’s race winner Andrew Morrissey, Goede, Austin Nason, Sommers and Henderson rounded out the top 10. Kvapil came back to finish 15th and was named the series’ rookie of the year.
“It was a great race and obviously I had a good battle with Erik Darnell,” said Majeski. “I played my cards right today. I knew I had a really, really good car at the drop of the green flag. I was trying to be real patient and take positions as they came, maintaining a pace to keep tires on it. I saved enough there at the end for the last restart to get by Erik. I knew Fredrickson was on a little bit different strategy. My only strategy (at the end) was to get out and build a big enough lead so he (Fredrickson) couldn’t get there.”
In other action, Nick Egan led early in the Big 8 Late Model feature, but Justin Neisius powered under Egan to take the top spot on lap three. Despite a couple early yellow flags for spins, Neisius broke away from the field on the restart.
Nick Clements would get up to second by lap 10, and started to challenge Neisius for the lead. Clements tried to go high and tried to look low, but Neisius stood his ground and held onto the lead. As Niesius started to pull away, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National champion Jacob Goede and Nick Panitzke would loom large in his rear view mirror.
Goede disposed of Clements for second on lap 18, and Panitzke dropped Clements another spot on lap 21. Goede powered around Niesius to become the new leader on lap 23. Three laps later it was Panitzke now in second and in pursuit of Goede. Yellow flew with four to go for Riley Stenjem’s spin in turn two, and that changed the complexion of the race with a double wide restart.
Goede pulled away over that four lap shootout to claim his second Big 8 win in three races. Michael Bilderback drove to an eighth place finish, but it was good enough to lock up another Big 8 series championship.
Other winners on Sunday included Dan Gilster (Mid-American Stock Car Series), Brandon DeLacy (Midwest Dash Series), Woody Pool (Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series) and Frank Kreyer (crate 602).
Ty Majeski, Dan Frederickson, Erik Darnell, Jonathan Eilen, Casey Johnson, Andrew Morrissey, Jacob Goede, Austin Nason, Gabe Sommers, Matthew Henderson, Derek Kraus, Billy Mohn, Michael Sauter, Chris Weinkauf, Carson Kvapil, John DeAngelis Jr., Justin Mondeik, Dillon Hammond, Luke Fenhaus, Tim Springstroh, Jason Weinkauf, Paul Shafer Jr., Rich Bickle Jr., Michael Ostdiek, Skylar Holzhausen, Johnny Sauter, Dean LaPointe, Nick Murgic.