CHALLENGING TRACK MAKES FOR EPIC BATTLES AS TORC SERIES RETURNS TO TWIN CITIES
Epic Greaves Battle Wows Fans in PRO 4; Vandenheuvel Survives Multiple Restarts for PRO 2 Win; and Kyle Kleiman Stands Tall in PRO Light at ERX
Elk River, Minn. (June 10, 2017) – High winds and the warmest day of the year greeted racers and fans as TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL returned to ERX Motor Park in Elk River for Round 3 of the Twin Cities Takedown. With temperatures reaching the mid 90s, racers had to battle fatigue and an ever-changing track, while managing the performance of their vehicles as overheating and brake fade became a recurring story line in the PRO ranks.
The event marked the TORC Series return to the Twin Cities track after debuting last year. The one-mile track, which takes advantage of natural elevation changes and a mixture of soils, had already been heralded by racers for its multiple lines and challenging terrain. However, track owners Chris Carlson and Todd Plaisted implemented even more changes for 2017 including the addition of clay in select corners along with vastly improved amenities and viewing areas for spectators, resulting in some of the best racing of the still young TORC Series season.
TENTHS OF A SECOND SEPARATE GREAVES DUO IN PRO 4
By the time the showcase PRO 4 trucks took the track for the grand finale, mistake free driving had already proven to be the recipe for success with the constantly changing, split-lane sand wash section, often separating the podium finishers from the rest of the field. At the drop of the green of the 14-lap final, it was the front row duo of Scott Douglas and Keegan Kincaid hammering through the high berms and massive braking bumps that had become signature features of the track.
In the early going, Douglas slipped to the inside of Kincaid, with a high-speed, late-brake maneuver to take the lead. Hot on his bumper was last year’s point champion CJ Greaves, who also passed Kincaid to quickly move into the second slot.
With the two young guns out front, CJ made his move early, out-jumping Douglas and moving to the front. But as the action was unfolding for the lead, no one was paying attention to the veteran Johnny Greaves who appeared seemingly out of nowhere to pass Douglas and quickly set his sights on his son CJ.
From that moment on it was a Greaves family battle, as the two checked out from the rest of the field. Even after the mid-race competition caution, CJ and Johnny continued to be the cream of the crop. With only tenths of a second separating them, Johnny watched his son with veteran savvy and then pounced when the first mistake was made. With Johnny in the lead, and the laps winding down, it looked to be a day for fatherly wisdom, but on the final lap Johnny made a rare mistake, drifting wide and opting to take the outside line in the challenging split-lane sand wash zone. It was all CJ needed to power past his mentor while laying down his fastest lap of the race.
“He made a mistake there and he gave it to me,” said CJ during the podium celebration. “The ruts are huge in that area and that’s where he got me. I got the truck up on two wheels and just made it stick.”
While disappointed, the always gracious Johnny Greaves gave his son the nod for recognizing his mistake and taking advantage of it. “I was trying so hard to protect…I should have just drove it in hard like I usually do.”
Finishing in third was Keegan Kincaid, who looked strong early but had to battle a trio of mechanical issues just to finish the race. “We were running good early but I lost power steering, my brakes were going away, and the truck was getting hot. I had a lot going on,” said Kincaid with grin.
VANDENHEUVEL SURVIVES MULTIPLE RESTARTS TO TAKE PRO 2
The PRO 2 main event was the tale of two races, an uneventful follow-the-leader before the caution, and multiple restarts and podium-through-attrition in the second half. Through it all, it was Appleton, Wisconsin’s Mike Vandenheuvel who was the man to beat, bursting out to an early lead and staying there despite multiple restarts after the competition caution.
While there were position changes behind Mike early in the race, it was the action in the second half that ultimately decided the podium finishers. First, Luke Johnson looked to gain an inside advantage on Vandenheuvel but instead made contact with the concrete barrier, snapping his front tie-rod and ending his day. Soon after, with Mike still out front and Brad Lovell in second place, it was Eric Ruppel who took an aggressive inside line before the sand wash, but instead made hard contact with Lovell resulting in considerable front suspension damage and a tow to the pits.
With only four laps to go, Vandenheuvel remained in the lead with Lovell in second and Mark Peterson taking over the final spot on the box. With victory in sight, Mike still had to withstand two more full-field cautions before he could celebrate…he did so with relative ease.
“I wouldn’t say I had nerves,” said Vandenheuvel as he stood atop the podium, “but you never know what someone might try…I knew we had the best truck out there today.”
The battle for the lead may have been tighter, but second place finisher Lovell drove a masterful race despite being limited to third gear for most of the closing laps. “We had an issue with the shifter cable,” said Brad. “Those restarts killed us…if I had all my gears maybe we would have had something for Mike.”
KYLE KLEIMAN BATTLES CARLSON FOR WIN IN PRO LIGHT
The door was opened for a new points leader in the PRO Light ranks when current points leader Casey Currie was unable to join the TORC Series tour in Minnesota. First in line to do so was the front row duo of Kyle Kleiman and Andrew Carlson. With ERX being the hometown track for Carlson, many thought he would have the advantage, but Kyle set an early furious pace that proved to be the difference maker.
Early on, Carlson overtook Kleiman with a masterful nose-under pass in the come-back turn after the finish line. With his hometown fans cheering him on, it looked as if Andrew might drive away for his second PRO Light win of his young career, but Kyle had other intentions. Just a lap before the competition caution, Kleiman regained the lead, charging hard into the huge moguls littering the entrance to the high-banked “Talladega Turn.”
At the restart, Carlson began to press, diving deep into the corners searching for the smallest of openings and the crowd could almost sense something “big” was about to happen…and it did. In the same turn where Kyle made his pass for the lead, Andrew looked to return the favor but instead caught a rut, sending his truck into a quarter-turn cartwheel. While he landed on his tires and powered away, the truck was clearly “tweaked” and Andrew’s hope for another hometown win was over.
The crash allowed Kyle to run away for the win, and in tow was Chad Rayford, who slotted up a position late in the race to finish second. Rounding out the podium was Shawn Morris, the self-proclaimed elder statesman of the PRO Light ranks but as he noted in the post-race interview, he can still get it done, he’s just a little more tired when it’s over.
CJ GREAVES REMAINS PERFECT IN PRO STOCK UTV
In PRO Stock UTV it was once again CJ Greaves, earning his third win of the season in as many races as he battled early with Zach Martin, eventually made a pass stick, and then opened up a 3-second gap over the rest of the field. Slotting in behind Greaves for much of the race was Ronnie Anderson. With only a handful of laps left, Anderson was forced to pull off the track, which opened the doors for the final two podium spots. It was Dillon Pointon who first took advantage of the opportunity, slotting himself up into second. However, it was Jake Lunderby with the pass of the race, as he executed a perfect two-for-one move coming into the braking bumps, overtaking Martin and Kenny Masch for the final spot on the box.
VAN EPEREN HOLDS OFF CHANEY FOR THE WIN IN PRO MOD UTV
The start of the PRO Mod UTV Round 3 final looked to bode well for points leader Tim Farr, who was in an early three-way battle with Rodney Van Eperen and Drew Schultz. However, it quickly turned into a hard-luck Saturday for Farr, as he was forced to pull-off just three laps in with a front flat tire. The race for the lead then turned into a battle between leader Van Eperen and Kyle Chaney, with Chaney looking for any way possible to gain an advantage while eating plenty of roost in the process. Behind them it was Szymik, Zakowski, and Schultz rattling cages as the track became more rutted and unpredictable. With laps winding down, Chaney made one final push as they entered the high banked “Talladega Turn.” With lapped traffic playing a role, Van Eperen nearly unloaded his car in the enormous braking bumps, but managed to land wheels first and hang on for the win. Chaney finished in second and Zach Szymik rounded out the box.
TWIN CITIES TAKEDOWN ROUND 4 ACTION TOMORROW
The TORC Series Twin Cities Takedown at ERX will tear it up again tomorrow with Round 4 action. Tune in for the broadcasted action at 2:30 pm CDT by visiting torcseries.com, YouTube at /USATORC, or Facebook at /TORC.