Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Ty Majeski Grabs Second Straight ARCA Menards Series Win

Ty Majeski was a compelling winner at Pocono
In a rousing follow-up to his ARCA Menards Series win at Charlotte prior to Memorial Day weekend, Ty Majeski snagged a second straight win in the series with a late race pass of Riley Herbst who had dominated most of the 80 lap, 200 mile event at Pocono Raceway. Majeski stalked Herbst for most of the race and won going away to finish out a day which had been beset with delays caused by torrential rains in the area during the days leading up to the race. Pole winner and previous Pocono winner Harrison Burton had a tough day and fought mechanical gremlins seemingly the whole race but still managed to finish sixth. Michael Self continued to lead the season points standings despite having a miserable day and finishing 11th. Hailie Deegan made her second ARCA start and took a respectable seventh after being involved in a crash at Toledo in her only other series start this season. For all the details and plenty of photos, be sure to visit the series website at this link.

The wall cloud before Akron was ominous looking
Those were the highlights from last Friday - a day we were supposed to be on track at 9:00 a.m. for practice, qualify at noon and then race at 5:30 p.m. Mother nature had other ideas however as it turned out to be a beautiful day after everything started off wet. I had driven over to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania the evening before and ran through some godawful torrents of rain around Akron, Ohio where speeds on I-76 got down to around 30 mph after heavy rains and flooding on the highway decreased visibility to almost nothing. I stopped in Youngstown for dinner before resuming my drive. The rest of the trip was bearable and I even saw a gorgeous double rainbow ahead of me at one point. The remainder of the trip mostly involved a light rain all the way across Pennsylvania and with the darkness, highway construction zones, and semi trucks laboring to get up the Pennsylvania hills, it became a tiresome drive that ended up taking me almost 11 hours. When I finally got to the hotel at a quarter past midnight, I was tired but looking forward to the track action the next day since my only other trip to Pocono had been four years ago.

Ty Majeski is coming on strong despite only having a limited number of races
After only five hours of sleep, I got up and headed back west to Pocono Raceway on I-80 and had to reacquaint myself with the access roads and internal parking, but I finally got settled in the correct parking area a little before 7:00 a.m. at the track. The jet dryers and Air Titan system was already out working on the track when I got there so it was obvious we were going to be in a holding pattern for awhile. Then they said 9:30. Then officials gathered on track to look at some areas along the outside walls where water was seeping through. Then series officials cancelled qualifying and after some extensive work on those "weepers" we finally got on track for 30 minutes of practice time which would set the starting lineup.

Pocono can be very picturesque and is known as the "Tricky Triangle"
I had intended to shoot from the outside during the originally scheduled practice session but we had so many delays that I came back inside and worked the area along Turn 3 and the "What Turn 4?" sign painted on the wall. Once practice and the pole award ceremony wrapped up, it was time to grab lunch and finish editing before coming up with a game plan to cover the race. Pocono is a big track and a lap of 2.5 miles takes some time to navigate so with only one other photographer (Rich Corbett) working with me, we had to decide where each of us would go to cover the most track we could.I started the race in the flagstand, as I like to do when there is a guest flagger, and worked the outside of Turn 3 for awhile but by lap 30 I was back inside working pit lane and from the top level of the hospitality building overlooking Victory Circle. I was very conscious of trying to get something different and I'm still not convinced I succeeded, but I did learn some things that should help me when we come back at the end of July. The ability to continue learning about photography is one of the greatest gifts I could even have gotten. And did I mention that the race was held on my 62nd birthday? May 31st ends the "Month of Jay" so it was quite memorable as it's not often that I get to spend my birthday at a racetrack with a few thousand of my closest friends.

I love shooting pit stops - the choreography is so cool
The next day I was up early and on the road back to Indianapolis. I wanted to go through Akron on the way home so I could go by Mom's old house as it's almost four years now since she passed away from complications associated with er lung cancer, and about three years since we sold her house. This whole Pocono trip was kind of bittersweet since the only other time I had been to Pocono was for the June 2015 ARCA race when I stayed at Mom's for a few days then drove to the race and came back to spend a few more days with her. She was not doing well then and little did any of us know that she would only live another month so I was (and still am) grateful that I got to spend that time with her. I helped her with chores around her house in Tallmadge and took her to the Giant Eagle grocery to get food for a big meal we would make together. It was the only time I ever saw her use a motorized cart in the grocery so I knew she was not doing well. I cooked up a big slab of barbecue ribs, and Mom made her famous cheesy potatoes with some broccoli on the side and we had a feast that night. It was the last real meal I would share with her. Seeing her former house now was a bit of a shock as the new owners had cut down all the trees in the front yard which made the house look positively naked. So Mom's "Nest on the Hill" is no more, and I will never visit there again. There was, however, one last Akron tradition to uphold on the way out of town - buying Italian sauces at DaViti's market - so I bought six jars and hit the road for Indy, leaving Akron behind, most likely for good. I just wish I had had time to eat at Luigi's in downtown Akron, but I was ready to get home so that was not to be.

There's something special about shooting from the outside wall
Tomorrow I hit the road for the next ARCA race at Michigan International Speedway, another big, fast, high banked track. The first time I went to a race at Michigan was in 1981 so I've been going there off and on for almost as long as I've been going to the Indy 500! Thankfully it's a much shorter drive and I can come home right after the race and have most of the rest of the weekend in Indy. Next week we wrap up my teaching year and then go to Madison, Wisconsin for another ARCA race so it's no rest for the weary. But there's also no time like the present and the scars I have from my cancer surgery earlier this year are constant reminders that I need to get living. Otherwise, I'm just busy dying and I have so much more to do. Like LeMans next year! See you at a racetrack somewhere soon!

Ty Majeski did an understated burnout following his Pocono win
More choreography in the pits - check the tool held in the mouth of one crewman
Ty admitted having a tough 2018 season but he is clearly on a roll now
Still the best looking stock car around - Michael Self has been making Sinclair proud

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