ERX Motor Park Delivers the Best Racing of the Season as Johnson, Kleiman, and CJ Greaves Secure Championships a Day Early During the TORC Series Kenda Final Rounds
Elk River, Minn. (Sept. 23, 2017) – It’s all about the dirt, and after 11-rounds of racing the drivers of TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL, looked to transform dirt to championships as the Kenda Final Rounds kicked off at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minnesota. With just two races remaining in the season, those looking to make a final push in the standings battled humidity, heat, and a track designed to reward smart decisions and bite back when pushed too hard.
KINCAID ELIMINATES MECHANICAL GREMLINS FOR HUGE WIN
Despite having a PRO 4 win to his credit in 2017, the season has been one of frustration for Keegan Kincaid, who has battled ongoing power steering issues. But it was a non-issue in Round 12 as Keegan drove with patience, confidence, and executed a third to first pass in the closing laps for the win.
The shot-in-the-arm win for Kincaid didn’t appear to be in the cards early as Johnny Greaves went from fourth to first in the opening lap and had the truck to beat. With only four points separating Johnny from his son CJ for the championship, a win here would have set him up perfectly for tomorrow’s final race. But as the racing heated up behind him, Johnny sent it with authority over the finish line jump, soaring in excess of 200-feet. The hard front-wheel impact was simply too much, as something let loose and Johnny’s day was done.
With his father out, CJ Greaves found himself mashed between leader Scott Douglas and Kincaid in third. It was anybody’s podium. But when Douglas lost second gear, the door opened for Kincaid, executing a two-for-one pass for the lead. Greaves came close, but a mistake on the final lap gave Kincaid a four-truck cushion to take the win over CJ and Douglas.
“It feels good just be able to race,” said Keegan referring to his power steering issues he has battled throughout the season. “I was just trying to be patient…I knew those guys (Douglas and CJ Greaves) would battle and they eventually opened the door for me.”
LUKE JOHNSON EARNS WIN AND CLINCHES FIRST PRO 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
Unbridled intensity was the only way to describe the action in PRO 2, as Luke Johnson locked down the win and year-end championship amid a chorus of racers who all wanted to play the role of spoiler. The biggest of those was undoubtedly Brad Lovell, who had been holding on to a slim mathematical margin of wrestling the championship away from Johnson, but only if everything played out in his favor…but it didn’t.
Before Johnson could pop the cork on the celebratory champagne, he first had to overtake Lovell and then fend off the aggressiveness of Andrew Carlson and two-time ERX PRO 2 winner Mike Vanden Heuvel. Ironically, it would eventually be the “go-for-it” drive of Carlson that would open the door for Johnson to move into the lead for good.
Prior to the competition caution, Carlson had posted the fastest lap and was slotted directly behind Johnson on the restart with Lovell in the lead. Johnson and Carlson banged doors lap after lap, and Carlson briefly gained the advantage, but in a move for the lead, an air borne Carlson found himself in a Johnson and Lovell sandwich, cutting down his rear tire and ending his day. That was all it took for Johnson to finally find the front and clean running. Vanden Heuvel closely followed Johnson, leaving Lovell to battle Ruppel for third.
With just three laps to go, another full-course caution bunched up the field and gave everyone one last chance to spoil Luke’s championship bid. It didn’t happen. Johnson would cross the line with the win and the championship secured. Vanden Heuvel and Lovell rounded out the podium.
“I’m just overcome with emotion,” said a visually exhausted and beaming Johnson. “We had to fight for that one…it’s just a dream come true.”
RELENTLESS EFFORT EARNS KYLE KLEIMAN PRO LIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Racing is often said to be a family sport, and no one knows that better than the Kleiman family who watched brothers Cody and Kyle battle for the win and take the top two spots on the box. Kyle locked up the 2017 PRO LIGHT championship with a dominant season.
“We had our ups and downs,” Kyle said after earning the year-end title. “But we worked through them as a team and kept pushing forward. That’s what being a champion is about…being relentless no matter what you’re put through.”
The win for Kyle came at the expense of his brother Cody having to relinquish a lead he held for much of the race. And while it was a Kleiman show at the front, there was plenty of action behind them as Shawn Morris, Cam Reimers, Chad Rayford, and Andrew Carlson all looked to make their mark in an action packed PRO Light final.
With Morris rolling in the north sweeper turn, Rayford swapping and going end-over-end in the sand whoops, Reimers going huge on the table top and landing on Kleiman; and Carlson banging doors with anyone who looked to slow his charge; it was eventually Morris who would survive and gain the final podium position with a last turn pass on Carlson. His tenacious persistence also earned him the Vision Wheel Bad MoFo honors for the day.
JOHNNY GREAVES MAKES A SHIFT FOR THE WIN IN PRO MOD UTV
Driving for his injured friend Rodney Van Eperen, Johnny Greaves looked to close the gap on championship points leader Kyle Chaney, by going back to what he knows best. The race prior, Johnny drove Van Eperen’s Yamaha but wasn’t comfortable with the paddle shifters. Thus, for Round 12, Johnny went with a traditional shifter and it helped to propel him to a flag-to-flag victory. Never pressured by his son CJ Greaves, who ran behind him throughout the race, all eyes were instead on Chaney, who came into the race with a 9-point lead over the injured Van Eperen. Prior to the mid-point competition caution, Chaney seemed comfortable to sacrifice the 4 points he would lose by finishing third, but on the restart, he put in an incredible charge to move up in the pecking order. On more than one occasion he showed CJ a wheel, and briefly he overtook the younger Greaves, but CJ regained the position and then protected the line. With those two battling, Johnny cruised to the win. “I ran his car (Van Eperen’s) yesterday because it felt right out of respect to Rodney,” said Johnny Greaves during the post-race interview. “But today was a new day and we rolled the dice and went with a car we knew and it made all the difference in the world.” Chaney’s points lead has dwindled to just five points with one round to go.
12 IN-A-ROW…GREAVES LOCKS UP CHAMPIONSHIP IN PRO STOCK UTV
After admitting he was hoping for a perfect season in the PRO Stock UTV ranks, CJ Greaves moved one step closer to his goal with a perfect race in Round 12. Starting from the front row, Greaves made it look easy as he accelerated past fellow front-row starter Jake Lunderby and never was pressured. With Greaves and Lunderby holding down the top two spots, the battle for the final podium box became the highlight reel of the race. Kenny Masch tried early to earn the spot but a mechanical ended his chances. Later, in a race that was marred by cautions, Dillon Pointon appeared to find the magic to make it happen, coming from deep in the pack to pass Martin and set his sights on Lunderby. But as quickly as Pointon charged through the field, it ended just as abruptly with a violent twisting crash at the exit of the sand whoops. The crash gave Martin back his spot on the box behind Greaves and Lunderby. “That had to be one of the longest UTV races I’ve been in,” said Greaves in reference to the multiple full-field cautions. “It was like giving second place another shot at the lead time and time again.”
LAST CHANCE…LAST RACE, 2017 SEASON CONCLUDES AT ERX MOTOR PARK
The TORC Series will wrap up the 2017 season tomorrow, Sunday, September 24, as racers give one final push for a win during the Kenda Final Rounds. Two class champions are yet to be determined and all will be celebrated long into the night. Tickets are available now at torcseries.com, at erxmotorpark.com or at the gate. You can also tune in for live streaming by visiting torcseries.com, YouTube at /USATORC, or Facebook at /TORC.