When Ty Majeski got the call informing him that he'd be part of the new NASCAR Next class of up-and-coming drivers, he was actually hitting the books -- or in his words, "crunching before an exam" -- in his University of Wisconsin-Madison dorm room.
For the third-year student pursuing a mechanical engineering degree, it was the perfect study break.
"It kind of cut into my studying time," Majeski said with a laugh Wednesday during a gathering with his 2016-17 Next classmates. "But when they called me and said, 'We need you in Charlotte next week,' it was just very surreal."
But his debut as a member of NASCAR Next wasn't the only major development in the 21-year-old Majeski's racing career this week. Monday, Roush Fenway Racing announced that they had signed the Wisconsin native to a driver development contract.
The deal helped provide some direction for one of the most talked-about short track racers in the country. Even before Tuesday's announcement, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had identified Majeski as a driver to watch in a tweet, and his name came up again during an appearance by reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
"It's definitely been crazy," Majeski said. "Last week at this time, I didn't think we were going to announce the Roush Fenway deal. I think there was kind of some media buzz a bit -- Kyle Busch talked about me on (SiriusXM) NASCAR Radio and I think Roush Fenway wanted to announce it, and it lit a fire under them to get that out there, which is all good. Definitely been a surreal week, and just kind of weird that it wound up panning out that way."
As part of the deal, Majeski will drive five ARCA Series races for Roulo Bros. Racing, the same team that helped groom Chris Buescher for a career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That partial schedule will mesh with continuing school work, his Super Late Model slate and competition in the ARCA Midwest Tour, where he's won two championships.
His accomplishments -- including Super Late Model triumphs this year in the New Smyrna World Series and the Rattler -- might make it tempting to forgo a college education to focus full-time on racing. But Majeski is following in the footsteps of another Wisconsonite -- former premier-series champion Alan Kulwicki -- in earning his degree.
"It goes both directions," says Majeski, who participated in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program last season. "I've got to have something to fall back on. Obviously, nothing's for certain in this sport. We see it every day that things change by the day. You're never locked into anything and I need to have something to fall back on. I've always wanted to be involved in racing, so if it doesn't pan out, I'm hoping to be an engineer for a team someday and keep racing in my life."