Ty Majeski celebrates in victory lane after winning the inaugural South Carolina 400 at Florence Motor Speedway on Saturday evening, which was his first appearance in a Late Model. (Photo: Brandon White)

In his first appearance behind the wheel of a Late Model, Ty Majeski drove with the experience of a ten-year veteran by mastering tire conservation and holding off Josh Berry to win the inaugural South Carolina 400 at Florence Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Majeski, whose long list of accomplishments include victories in the Slinger Nationals, Rattler 250 and other prestigious Super Late Model events, was overwhelmed at the idea of defeating so many talented Late Model drivers across 225 grueling laps, but he credited his Chad Bryant Racing crew for all of their hard work in getting him comfortable during the weekend.

“It’s unbelievable really to accomplish this in a different discipline,” Majeski said. “I worked these guys so hard this weekend because I’ve never driven one of these things and I don’t know what a good one feels like. I tried to get it to feel like my Super, but obviously that wasn’t possible, but I never thought we would have a race car like that compared to the rest of the field when the green flag dropped, but we did.”

Majeski’s car initially did not possess the speed he needed to be competitive in Berry when group qualifying began in the late afternoon, as his time of 17.967 was only good enough to place him 14th on the 35-car grid.

Berry’s lap of 17.765 earned him the outside pole position for the South Carolina 400 alongside Matt Cox, who was quickly overtaken by Berry on the first lap. Berry had to withstand an early challenge from Lee Pulliam, but he ended up leading most of the first 100 laps with little resistance.

As the Lap 100 break drew closer, the #77 of Majeski methodically worked his way through the field and into the second position. Majeski had managed to get to Berry’s back bumper before the caution was displayed, which allowed teams 15 minutes to make adjustments to their cars.

Majeski knew that a driver of Berry’s caliber would be difficult to defeat in an event like the South Carolina 400, but he said that riding behind Berry shortly before the intermission enabled him to observe his driving style and figure out a gameplan that would work out in his favor over the final 125 laps.

“The advantage I had was that I was following [Berry] the whole time,” Majeski said. “I was studying his racecar, and picking up where we needed to be better and where we were better than him. We made a few small changes and it was good enough.”

Majeski and Berry both fell out of the Top 5 to conserve their tires while Cox, Sam Yarbrough and Justin Johnson set the pace at the front of the field. Berry eventually regained control of the lead after getting past Yarbrough’s defensive driving on Lap 180, which left him to deal with a hard-charging Majeski.

After dispatching Yarbrough, Majeski fell into line behind Berry and waited for the right opportunity to make his move for the lead. With 27 laps remaining, Majeski dove underneath Berry and used his car’s superior drive off the corner to propel himself into the top spot.

Berry made a couple of runs at the lead during the final 25 laps, but he did not have enough to catch Majeski, which forced him to settle with a second-place finish to cap off a stellar season that saw him win the Old North State Nationals at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and his first NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series title.

“I hate to lose, but that was a ton of fun,” Berry said. “I was a little worried because our car was really good during the day, but I felt like we some of the turn we had during the first half. We worked on it during the break, but we just didn’t quite hit it right, while Ty made his car better and beat us.”

Majeski admitted that tire conservation was a new concept for him entering the South Carolina 400, but he considers himself honored to hold his own with and outrun an efficient Late Model driver like Berry and hopes to have more opportunities to compete in those cars in the near future.

“I’d love to do more of these,” Majeski said. “Anytime I have an opportunity to run with such a great group of guys and equipment that’s as strong as the car Chad Bryant gave me tonight, I’m going to take advantage of it.”

Once Majeski is done celebrating his South Carolina 400 victory, he intends to turn his attention towards winning the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway, which will take place on Dec. 6.

South Carolina 400 Results:

  1. 77 Ty Majeski
  2. 8 Josh Berry
  3. 95 Sam Yarbrough
  4. 78 Lee Pulliam
  5. 1 Nolan Pope
  6. 14 Conner Jones
  7. 44 Justin Johnson
  8. 00 Averitt Lucas
  9. 51 Matt Cox -1
  10. 55 Mark Wertz -1
  11. 22 Timothy Peters -1
  12. 99 Austin Somero -1
  13. 95 Jacob Heafner -1
  14. 2 Braden Rogers -1
  15. 12 Sammy Smith -1
  16. 59 Heath Causey -1
  17. 60 RA Brown -1
  18. 03 Brenden Quenn -1
  19. 13 Wes Burton -1
  20. 12 Austin McDaniel -2
  21. 16 Casey Kelley OUT
  22. 19 Matt Craig OUT
  23. 88 Doug Barnes Jr. OUT
  24. 21 Dylan Ward OUT
  25. 2 Joshua Yeoman OUT
  26. 94 Jamie Weatherford OUT
  27. 09 Riley Gentry OUT
  28. 13 Bobby June OUT
  29. 22 Robert Powell OUT
  30. 22 Charlie Powell III OUT
  31. 98 Kevin Parsons OUT
  32. 15 Mitch Walker OUT
  33. 11 Blaise Brinkley OUT
  34. 18 Anthony Adams OUT
  35. 18 David Roberts OUT