Blistering Heat and Heavy Roost Usher in Return to Minnesota as Familiar Winners CJ Greaves and Kyle Kleiman are Complemented by Mike Vanden Heuvel and Kyle Chaney
Elk River, Minn. (Sept. 22, 2017) – After nearly three months, TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL returned to the technical ERX Motor Park track for Round 4 of the Twin Cities Takedown, and this weekend year-end championships are on the line. The first of a triple race weekend in Elk River, the race played out under sunny skies as one of hottest days of the year greeted racers and fans. Yet the blistering heat was matched on the track, as racers took to a revamped track featuring more jumps, racing lines, and intense racing action.
CJ GREAVES DISSECTS ERX TRACK WITH SURGICAL PRECISION FOR THE WIN
With only two points separating CJ Greaves and his father Johnny in the chase for the PRO 4 crown, every inch of dirt mattered in Friday’s final. However, those inches turned to seconds, as CJ went to work on the technical track with a methodical madness, resulting in lines others couldn’t find and a 3-second victory over his father.
Ross Hoek grabbed the early lead from his pole position with Scott Douglas in tow. But it didn’t take Johnny Greaves long to close up on Hoek’s bumper. With Hoek driving in all-out mode, truck swapping from side-to-side in the ruts, Greaves ran the cool and collective line, and quickly found himself at the front of the PRO 4 field. Not far behind was CJ, who almost seemed to toy with his father for several laps before pouncing with a brilliant outside/inside pass in the banked Talladega turn.
Johnny tried to keep it close, but CJ continued to pull away. Behind them, Keegan Kincaid battled intermittent power steering issues, yet managed to find the moxie and racing lines to move into third. The win was CJ’s seventh on the season, and it gave him a 4-point cushion over his father in the championship chase with two races to go.
“This is his kind of track,” said Johnny Greaves, giving the nod to his son on the victory. “He’s methodical…he knows where to slow down and where to put the truck…I think my pace picked up when I started to follow him.”
VANDEN HEUVEL MAKES IT A TWIN CITIES TAKEDOWN SWEEP IN PRO 2
He waited all summer to make it happen, but Mike Vanden Heuvel returned to PRO 2 TORC Series action at ERX Motor Park, and picked up right where he left off this past spring…atop the box. The ERX repeat victory for Mike didn’t come without plenty of drama along the way. The 14-lap final was filled with passing, contact, full-field cautions, and perhaps one of the most challenging and rutted tracks on the 2017 tour.
But beyond Vanden Heuvel’s win, the story within the race was the battle for the PRO 2 championship between point leader Luke Johnson and bridesmaid Brad Lovell. With Mark Peterson getting the early lead, it was Luke Johnson looking to stretch his lead as he settled into second ahead of Vanden Heuvel. Eventually the smooth lines of Vanden Heuvel moved him past both Johnson and Peterson; and not far behind was Eric Ruppel, who kept the leaders in sight throughout much of the race.
As this lead pack battled to sort out the final positions atop the box, hometown boy Andrew Carlson was on the move, charging from 13th position to eventually third just prior to the final full-course caution restart of the race. It was here where Carlson dove under Johnson, contact was made, and Johnson found himself against the concrete safety barrier. He salvaged a tenth place, but his points lead over Lovell dwindled in the process.
Following Vanden Heuvel across the line was Carlson in second and Eric Ruppel in third. “It took us all summer to do it, but we finally got to complete our sweep on the weekend,” Mike said, alluding to his spring win at ERX prior to Round 4 being postponed due to weather.
KYLE KLEIMAN AVOIDS PRO LIGHT TAG FEST FOR ANOTHER WIN
With the TORC Series recently debuting their latest video series dubbed Young Guns, which showcases the up and coming talent in the series, it was perhaps no surprise the PRO Light final was one of the most eventful of the day. With multiple lead changes and plenty of extracurricular contact, tempers flared and cooler heads prevailed as Kyle Kleiman won again, and in the process put the year-end championship in a stranglehold.
From the pole, Shawn Morris grabbed the early lead, and through some savvy lane choices, opened up a multi-truck lead over the rest of the pack. However, that lead was short lived when he was tagged by Andrew Carlson coming out of the braking bumps entering the Talladega turn. The contact shuffled Morris back several positions and left him hot under the collar for the rest of the race. The move also gave Carlson the lead, but it was short lived, as Carlson rotated too soon in the turn-back corner and put his truck on the door. That was all it took for Cody and Kyle Kleiman to move to the front. While Cody was looking strong, it wasn’t enough to prevent Kyle from making what was perhaps the smoothest pass of the day, charging into the Talladega corner high, rotating early and exiting low with a tremendous run.
Morris would eventually find himself back in the podium mix, but not before battling once again with Carlson. This time though, Morris would get the upper hand. In the closing laps, Morris took advantage of a front flat tire on Cody’s truck to move into second place between a Kleiman brother bookend – Kyle taking the win and Cody finishing third.
“Man, I was getting hot in the truck,” Kyle said after the race. “We kept having restart after restart…sweat was getting in my eyes and I got roosted so bad early my helmet was full of dirt. But everything held together…I have a great crew behind me and we have such a solid program.”
CHANEY FENDS OFF GREAVES DUO TO EXTEND CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
The pecking order in PRO Mod UTV was shaken prior to Friday’s race, when Rodney Van Eperen had to bow out of competition after suffering multiple injuries from a motocross accident earlier this month. Rodney handed over driving duties of his 845 Yamaha to Johnny Greaves, and to add another twist, CJ Greaves also joined the mix, lining up at the back of the field for the 12-lap final. For points leader Kyle Chaney, the buzz of the Greaves tandem being in the race didn’t change his mission…get out front and win, and that’s exactly what he did.
Early on, top runners Tim Farr and Jason Luburgh gave chase, but Chaney held his composure and more importantly, held onto the lead. Behind him, Johnny Greaves put in a top shelf performance for his friend Van Eperen, despite being his first UTV race in TORC series competition. But it was the charge from last to second by CJ Greaves that was the eye-opener of the race. Unfortunately for CJ, a flat tire combined with a mechanical on the closing lap, allowed Johnny to move back into second with CJ hanging on for third. “Johnny put the pressure on me,” said Chaney referring to the closing laps when Johnny nearly made a pass for the lead. “I’m thinking to myself, oh man, I gotta get away from him!”
CJ GREAVES SETS HIS SIGHTS ON A PERFECT SEASON
With 10 wins to his credit in the PRO Stock UTV class, a third row starting position for CJ Greaves was not ideal, but the glimmer of top-of-the-box hope it gave other drivers faded quickly. Dillon Pointon shot out to an early lead with Jake Lunderby and Zach Martin in tow, but it took no time at all for Greaves to find the fast line and make his move to the front. Changes to the ERX track made the already technical track even more demanding, but CJ used surgical precision, the sand wash split lane feature, and a sneaky line through the Talladega turn to find the lead prior to the competition caution. From there, Greaves looked to check out, but Pointon hung tough, sticking with Greaves till the checkered, and perhaps learning a few tricks to utilize in this weekend’s rounds. Behind them, Lunderby fought off a relentless Zach Martin for the final spot on the box. “There’s definitely some new lines out there,” Greaves said referring to the changes made to the ERX track. “Dillon left the door open and I jumped the inside…from there it was a drag race. Hopefully we can celebrate a thirteen-peat by the end of the weekend.”
UP NEXT – THE KENDA FINAL ROUNDS AT ERX MOTOR PARK
The TORC Series will wrap up the season and crown year-end champions when the action returns to ERX Motor Park, Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24, for the Kenda Final Rounds. Tickets are available now at torcseries.com or at erxmotorpark.com. You can also tune in for live streaming by visiting torcseries.com, YouTube at /USATORC, or Facebook at /TORC.