Bike Week in Sturgis SD Plays Host to Pro-4 Wins for Johnny and CJ Greaves.
Probably the wildest and most demanding tracks on the TORC Series circuit is appropriately the track at Buffalo Chip race park during the 75th anniversary of Bike Week in Sturgis, SD. A record crowd of well over a million bikers and revelers from all over the country converged on the small town in South Dakota for the annual bike rally that pushes partying and rowdiness to the limit. As a bonus, they get to enjoy some of the best off-road racing in the country on only the 2nd year of the “made for TORC” track. The track was very punishing to a lot of drivers. Avoiding a flat was the biggest concern due to holes and rocks that emerged during the races. By most folks standards, the Greaves boys had a great weekend. But both Johnny and CJ had their share of heartburn with a couple of flats that hampered them in a couple of races. On the bright side though, both shared the spotlight atop the Pro-4 podium with wins–Johnny on Tuesday and CJ on Wednesday. CJ also had a 2nd place finish in Pro-4 as well as a 2nd place finish in Pro-2 on Tuesday.
The Buffalo Chip track features uphill/downhill runs with tight turns and off-camber curves as well as treacherous rhythm sections and a couple of big jumps. The crews worked hard to get the track ready after rains soaked the area. But the rocks and holes became a problem for all the drivers throughout the 2 days of racing.
The midweek races started on Tuesday with CJ in his Monster Energy/Toyota/Maxxis Tire Pro-2 up first. He started from row 2. Doug Mitag took the early lead with Keegan Kincaid in 2nd, followed by CJ. Everybody kept their distance the first half of the race–getting a feel for the track. Kincaid eventually took the lead and CJ also moved up a spot. The top 2 pulled away from the field. CJ worked hard to get around Kincaid, nearly making the pass several times. On a track where there are not very many opportunities to pass, he had to settle for a second place finish.
Up next were the Pro 4×4’s. Johnny in his Monster Energy Maxxis Tire Method Race Wheel Toyota started from the front row. CJ, returning to the site of his Pro-4 debut, also lined up on the front row in his orange and black Maxxis Tire Monster Energy Toyota. This year, he enters the race as a seasoned veteran, touting a points lead and 5 wins thus-far this season. Johnny got the hole shot with CJ just behind him in 2nd. The two Greaves lead the field up to the competition caution. However, CJ was bitten by the flat tire bug and had to pull into the hotpit for a tire change. He rejoined the field at the back of the pack for the 2nd half of the race.
Johnny held the lead on the restart. Douglas was in second, but got loose and went off the track and to the rear of the field. CJ, now in 4th, went inside of Chad Hord on the uphill turn. He completed the pass on the next turn by holding the outside line. While Johnny was checking out in the lead, CJ and Mike Jenkins were battling behind him to land the 2nd spot on the podium. They went side-by-side through several turns. CJ was able to eventually muscle his way past Jenkins to end the race in second.
“We just had to keep cool,” said CJ, referring to his recovery following his flat at the midway point of the race. “We just put our heads down and got back to the front.”
Johnny said about his 4th win of the season: “Starting from the front was definitely an advantage. I just tried to keep it clean and not hit the holes and rocks too hard.”
Wednesday, CJ would start from the back row of the Pro-2 field of 5 trucks. He was never able to advance due to mechanical issues and eventually pulled out of the race. He remains at the top of the points standing by 13 points.
In Pro-4, Johnny started on row 2 with CJ in the rear of the pack. Johnny was battling hard to get around Scott Douglas when he hit one of the rocky berms hard causing his left rear tire to go down. He limped around the track hoping to make it to the competition caution without loosing his tire altogether and allowing him to take advantage of the caution to make a quick tire change. CJ was now in 3rd.
Front runner Chad Hord, apparently unaware that Douglas was beside him, hit Douglas sending him off the track. This also broke his momentum and allowed CJ the opportunity to take the lead. CJ stretched his lead while Johnny was anxiously awaiting the competition caution.
When the yellow/red flags flew, Johnny ducked into the hotpit for the tire change and was able to get to the back of the field before the restart. When racing resumed, CJ checked out to a sizable lead while Johnny was picking off one spot at at time. He passed Jenkins and went to work on Douglas. But, disaster struck once again in the form of another flat. CJ took the checkered for his 6th win of the season and stretched his points lead to 13.
“The truck was on rails,” said CJ following the race. “My hats off to the crew for getting my truck ready–it was flawless!”
The team will head to Bark River Michigan for rounds 13 and 14 on August 15-16. Bark River features one of the fastest turns as well as one of the biggest jumps. Both Johnny and CJ have had a lot of success at this track and will attempt to continue their momentum going as the season winds down to just 2 race weekends.