NASCAR Cup Series
Catching up with NASCAR’s Superspeedway Secret – T.J. Majors
“Door. Bumper. Clear.”
This simple, yet iconic phrase was made famous by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion spotter, T.J. Majors. Majors broke on to the NASCAR scene in 2001 after online racing video games presented him with the friendship of a lifetime.
Unbeknownst to Majors, he was racing with 16-time most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who at the time was not even competing in the then NASCAR Busch Series (now NASCAR Xfinity Series). Over the years, the pair frequently messaged each other and even shared racing setups, forming a strong bond.
The future driver/spotter duo met face-to-face after Earnhardt Jr. traveled to Major’s home state for a testing session at Watkins Glen International. Upon Major’s arrival, the two cyber-friends immediately kicked it off and spent the entire weekend together. Shortly following their time at the New York road course, Earnhardt Jr. persuaded Majors to move to North Carolina with the intent of finding him a job in NASCAR .
The Tar Heel State – with help from his new best friend – granted Majors the opportunity to work with Ken Schrader at MB2 Motorsports.
“It’s kind of been a long, unplanned journey but it’s been interesting,” Majors shared with POPULAR SPEED. “The team needed a spotter one weekend and they asked if I’d go spot. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but I’ve been doing it ever since!”
Earnhardt Jr. and Majors didn’t team up until 2007, when the racing prodigy was in the midst of the final 10 races of his career at Dale Earnhardt Inc. The infamous tandem remained together until the Earnhardt Jr. called it a career in 2017. Through what was a near 10-year professional relationship, Majors and Earnhardt Jr. accomplished nine wins, 74 Top-Fives and 140 Top-10’s.
An impressive stat line with the numbers to back it up, Majors secured himself as one of NASCAR’s most well known and successful spotters in the sport. He revealed that him and Earnhardt Jr. never really sat down and discussed his spotting methods; it all happened organically and the two had an innate understanding for how to improve each other’s profession.
It’s often said that spotters make their money spotting at the high banked tracks of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway; this is especially true for Majors.
Plate racing is notorious for being unpredictable and chaotic. In most cases, this is true; however, Majors has been able to successfully navigate his drivers through just about anything at these high speed enigma tracks.
“One thing I’ve learned as spotting has evolved over the years is that I must do everything I can to keep my car up front (on superspeedways),” Majors shared. “I started giving information to my drivers that became more desirable and useful to them, but I think him (Earnhardt Jr.) being such a great plate racer is what helped me refine my craft as a spotter on plate tracks.”
In Major’s nearly 12-year long career as a spotter in the Cup Series, it’s safe to say that he has made a name for himself as NASCAR’s premier superspeedway spotter. Major’s has spotted 46 plate races and in that span he’s guided his drivers to a combined 833 laps led, four wins, 17 Top-Fives and 23 Top-10s. To put in perspective, that’s a top-10 finish in half the events he’s spotted between Daytona and Talladega.
“We’re (spotters) all trying to do the same thing and our objective is to keep the driver safe; that’s the first thing,” Majors said.
Majors knows this all too well, first hand. In his time spotting the driver of the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports, he witnessed his driver succumb to two major concussions which sidelined the 16-time most popular driver for 20 races; this ultimately ended the superstar’s driving career.
Upon Earnhardt Jr’s departure from racing, Majors took his spotting talents to Team Penske with Joey Logano in 2018. The pair had worked together previously when 2012 Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski called on Majors to spot Logano in the then NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (now NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series) race at Rockingham Speedway in 2013. In Majors’ first attempt with Logano, the duo would go on to notch a second place finish.
“I always felt like I would end up with Team Penske,” Majors said. “There were a lot of connections leading up to this and it worked out really well.”
Majors worked with Keselowski when he drove for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Once Keselowski got his big break driving for Team Penske in the Cup Series, Majors remained in contact with his former driver, as well as connected with Team Penske’s President Roger Penske.
After Earnhardt Jr. retired, all signs pointed towards Team Penske as the next chapter in Majors’ NASCAR spotting career. The shop was close to Majors’ North Carolina home, he had many friends working for the Captain and Keselowski was the best man at Majors’ wedding (as was Majors at Keselowski’s wedding).
“Joey made it clear to me that he wanted to work together,” Majors said. “He thought I could help him be more successful and he couldn’t be more right.”
In Major’s first year with Logano, he was fortunate enough to be a part of a championship winning team. Even more staggering is Majors and Logano’s dominant success at superspeedways in their short time working together.
“It’s no secret, T.J. is probably the best superspeedway spotter in the business,” Logano shared with POPULAR SPEED. “His understanding of the draft, where and how the runs will build, and then being able to communicate that to me is second to none.”
In five out of six plate races, Logano has not finished worse than fifth with Majors on the spotter’s stand; the only exception came in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in 2018, when Logano’s day ended early after getting involved in a wreck on Lap 53.
Majors has guided Logano masterfully to one win, five top-fives and five top-10s in just six races between Daytona and Talladega. As a result, Logano currently leads all active Cup Series drivers with an average finish of 9.5 at plate tracks with Majors helping from above. No other driver currently has an average finish inside the top-10 in the same six race span at superspeedways, let alone a single digit average. To find the second highest average finish on superspeedways in six races, you’ll need to drop over two positions to 11.9 which is owned by Roush Fenway Racing driver, Ryan Newman.
But what makes Majors such a desirable asset to his drivers at plate racing tracks?
“T.J.’s passion for the sport is something that makes him really good at his job,” Logano said. “He doesn’t just show up on Friday and start the weekend. He studies race film from previous events, he understands what other drivers are going to do in certain situations and he gives me a sounding board to discuss what I’m seeing when I do film study.”
Majors believes his relationship with Logano has worked out so well due to the communications they share with each other throughout the race.
“Joey wants as much information as you can give, so my spotting-style works out really well with him– he wants even more information than what I gave to Dale,” Majors revealed. “He wants to know where drivers are, what line they’re running, how far back they are; he wants as much info as you can give in every corner of every lap.”
While Majors may be mainly praised for his superspeedway career, Logano may have struck the jackpot with NASCAR’s new rules package. Halfway through the season, we’ve seen common themes almost every race weekend which eerily correlate to plate racing.
“I’ve been lucky because the way these new roll-packages are going, racing has kind of went in that direction of superspeedway racing,” Majors said. “We’re racing closer together, so you’re giving more information– like a plate race– at more tracks.”
Logano shared the same sentiments saying, “With the new aero rules, we’ve seen the draft– especially on restarts– be critical through the first half of the season and that’s been an opportunity for us to gain track position.”
This season, Logano has finished fourth in both races at Daytona and Talladega, so it should come as no surprise that the No. 22 team is considered favorites to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona this weekend.
Can the reigning Cup Series champion continue his dominant success on superspeedways this weekend? Never count out a driver who has T.J. Majors looking out on the rooftop.
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