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Ty Majeski snags points lead in Martinsville truck race: 'I thought we put on a good show'

Ty Majeski snags points lead in Martinsville truck race: 'I thought we put on a good show'

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Christian Eckes and Ty Majeski were the only two drivers to lead multiple laps in Friday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

A restart with 28 laps remaining finally pinned the two most dominant drivers of the Long John Silver’s 200 head-to-head on the front row. Majeski leaned his No. 98 Ford against Eckes’ No. 19 Chevrolet as the two beat door panels, but Eckes ultimately held on — even after a pair of additional cautions — to score the win while Majeski finished runner-up.

MORE: Martinsville results

“I think, overall, the 19 was just a little bit better than us, and restarts were my Achilles heel — and there was just too many of them at the end,” Majeski said.

That didn’t short anyone of a classic short-track battle. The old-fashioned roughhousing produced 11 cautions, setting up a final showdown with three laps to go, with Majeski falling just short. And while the No. 98 ThorSport Racing entry wasn’t sitting in Victory Lane, Majeski was still able to muster plenty of positivity out of the night–including an appreciation for his hard-nosed fight with Eckes.

“Honestly, he got a good start, and I was trying to keep position on him,” Majeski said. “And I got in hot and doored him a little bit, and he was holding me down really tight, which he needed to be. So yeah, I thought it was a good race. I hope he thinks so, too. I thought we put on a good show.”

Indeed they did — and the race winner agreed with him.

“It was super hard racing for sure,” Eckes said. “I’m sure he enjoyed it as much as he does. You know, he’s a short-track racer just like me, so that was fun. I felt like really coming in from practice, us and the 98 were the best two trucks and that kind of proved itself in the race for sure.”

Though they ended up atop the leaderboard anyway, their nights were largely determined by pit strategy. Eckes’ No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet stayed out to lead each of the first 104 of 200 laps, his team deciding not to pit until the conclusion of Stage 2. That plummeted Eckes to 18th on the ensuing restart.

Sitting in the Martinsville media center as the race winner, Eckes admitted he thought a simple top-10 finish would have qualified as a good night at the start of that final stage.

“Honestly, I was surprised we moved through the field as quickly as we did because, in practice, I struggled in traffic pretty badly,” Eckes said. “So whatever we did from practice to the race definitely worked, and I was able to move through the field really quickly.”

Majeski, on the opposite strategy, pitted just once at Lap 54 after the conclusion of Stage 1. Green-flag runs would have helped the No. 98 team’s strategy, but those were hard to come by after the opening stage. Nine of the 11 cautions in Friday’s race occurred during or after the second stage.

“We needed not all those stacked cautions,” Majeski said. “Then, all of a sudden, he was fourth and had a couple good restarts, and he really didn’t have to use anything up to get there. So yeah, if we could have got a long green-flag run any one of those first two or three runs after he pitted, we probably win the race. So yeah, it just didn’t go our way tonight. But going back, I don’t know that I would have done anything different.”

Eckes agreed a long green-flag run probably would have ended any shot of his to win Friday’s event, the sixth of the 2024 season and already Eckes’ second victory.

“I mean, seven seconds is a real big thing to come back from,” Eckes said of his then-deficit to the leaders. “I don’t think we were that good, and I don’t think we had enough time to do that. Like I said, we kind of needed the cautions to get us closer. And it’s pretty hard to pass at Martinsville, even with as good of a truck as we had. We were really the only one that could pass on the outside and make moves as efficiently as we did. So, definitely need those cautions.”

Ultimately, Majeski left smiling through the disappointment of a near-win, falling 0.644 seconds short of the victory.

“I’m super proud of it,” Majeski said. “We stepped outside of our comfort zone a little bit tonight from a setup perspective, and I thought we went the right direction. So, I think we know what we need to work on coming back here in the fall. And that’s why we did it tonight. It was a little bit of a test session. So any time you can be pretty disappointed with second, you’re having a good year. Proud of what we’ve done so far. We gotta keep it going.”

MORE: 2024 Truck schedule | 2024 Truck standings

Majeski also leaves Virginia with the points lead, maintaining a seven-point margin over both Corey Heim and Tyler Ankrum in the hunt for the regular-season championship.

“That’s a big deal,” Majeski said. “I think it’s 15 points to the to the season winner. That equals three wins, right? So that’s a really big deal. We want to win races, but we also want to win that regular-season championship. So it’s all about balancing that as you go all throughout the season. Overall, if you don’t make mistakes, you’re gonna have a shot at the regular-season championship. We just can’t have bad days like Bristol (finishing 34th). We’ve just got to keep going, top five them to death and the win will come.”