CJ Greaves and VanEperen Take Home Championships at Crandon.
Crandon, WI (August 31-September 2, 2018)
Another record breaking crowd witnessed some very exciting racing at the legendary Crandon International Raceway and the conclusion of the first year of the Midwest Short Course League season. The 4-day, Labor Day weekend event at “The Big House” has been taking place for a year shy of 50 years. It featured a full slate of Sportsman and Pro races, beginning Thursday with practice sessions and racing beginning on Friday with the famous Crandon parade sandwiched between the racing action. After an uncertain start, the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course League closed out the short season in conjunction with Crandon’s World Championship races and the AMSOIL Cup race on Sunday. The Greaves Duo and Yamaha team were in the hunt for multiple championships that would be determined by the weekend’s racing. Johnny and CJ Greaves entered the races with just 1 point separating the two Greaves for the Pro4 championship. In the end, the red number plate will remain on CJ’s number 33 Monster Energy/Mutant Soda/Maxxis Tire/ Toyota as he prevailed and took his 4th consecutive championship with Johnny taking the runner up spot.
Rodney VanEperen also walked away with a big trophy as he wrapped up another Pro Mod SXS UTV Championship for Yamaha Racing, PowerSports1/Maxxis Tire, and Yamalube. He finished 4th in the Saturday race which put him over the top to claim the championship.
CJ also entered his Monster Energy/Mutant Soda/Maxxis Tire Toyota in the East vs. West Pro2 World Championship. With the horsepower difference, he entered as a “West” driver in his Pro2 that had not been raced in over 2 years. And, like a beast that had been pinned up and let out, CJ passed the entire field of 17 trucks to take the Pro2 World Championship, passing Keegan Kincaid on the final lap.
CJ capped off his Monster Energy Yamaha Racing/Maxxis Tire/Yamalube YXZ 1000R Pro Stock SXS season with a World Championship win. Adam Reek and Gray Leadbetter made great strides over the last several races. Adam finished a respectable 6th and 8th in the Pro Stock SXS races out of a huge field of 30 UTV’s! Gray was making her way to the front in Friday’s Sportsman SXS but was collected in a fellow racer’s spin sending her to the back. She broke into the top 10 in Saturday’s World Championship race and turned improved to 9th out of a field of 25 racers.
FRIDAY: Racing action started on Friday with the Greaves Duo in a virtual dead heap. CJ was able to take his 3rd win of the short season. However, disaster struck Johnny as a fuel line came loose setting off a fire inside the cockpit of his Pro4 taking him out of the race. He quickly got out of his vehicle and the fire extinguished but a lot of damage was done. It would take a miracle to get his truck ready for the remaining races. With one race to go, the championship was on the line as well as his hopes for another Amsoil Cup win.
SATURDAY: Ten trucks lined up for the race on Saturday, with several West coast drivers joining the race, mainly to get a feel for the track for the upcoming World Championship Races and the Amsoil Cup race. CJ lined up in the pole position for the landrush start with Johnny beside him. Johnny hit the line after his crew pulled-off a miracle overhaul of his truck that caught fire in Friday’s race. The two Greaves took the holeshot as they went side-by-side through the infamous Potawatomi Turn One. Johnny edged ahead but CJ was able to pass the elder Greaves in the argon turn.
Racing stopped while track crews cleared the vehicle of Al Drews who spun-out and landed on top of a K-rail. With the championship on the line, the Greaves Duo battled as if their lives depended on it… CJ trying to hold off his dad and Johnny trying every way possible to get around CJ. Johnny went for the pass several times, but CJ was able to hold him off. On the final lap, the two were nose-to-tail as if they were one truck. On the final turn, Johnny made a last second charge for the pass, edging his Monster Energy Toyota past the left rear quarter panel of CJ’s Monster Energy Mutant Soda Toyota. But CJ was able to hold his position and took the checkered ahead of his dad to take the win and steel the Championship–his 4th in a row.
“I have a bunch of championships–I am just so proud to still be able to race up front and I get to race my kid,” said an emotional Johnny Greaves following the race in which CJ took the championship. “The crew pulled off a miracle to get the truck back together–it was literally fried to a crisp.” (Johnny’s truck caught fire during Friday’s race after a fuel line came loose.)
PRO 4 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
The much anticipated Pro4 World Championship Race brought the Midwest and the West Coast racers together for the best-of-the-best, no points, no holds barred, free-for-all around the 1.7 mile track. Eleven trucks lined up for the landrush start with CJ 2nd and a couple of West coast drivers on either side–Bryce Menzies to his right and Kyle LeDuc to his left. Johnny started 4th with RJ Anderson next to him.
In the landrush start, Kyle hit one of the small jumps and got sideways, getting into CJ. CJ checked up to avoid a major pileup. Menzies took the holeshot with Johnny Greaves behind him in 2nd. LeDuc and Johnny battled hard through the gravel pit turn but LeDuc was able to make the pass with Greaves continuing to pressure him to regain the spot. CJ was lurking in 4th after a skirmish with Adrian Cenni. He began to real in his dad while Menzies continued to build his lead. With no competition caution, CJ caught his dad and made the pass on lap 8 of the 9 lap race after Johnny’s left rear tire began going down. The race ended with CJ claiming the 3rd spot on the podium and Menzies taking the win followed by Kyle LeDuc.
EAST VS WEST PRO 2 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
CJ also entered the East vs. West Pro2 World Championship. He had not raced his Pro2 in 2 years but the West Coast horsepower matched his Pro2, so he entered his Monster Energy/Mutant Soda/Maxxis Tire Toyota as a West Coast driver. Greaves was 2nd on the grid but the west coast trucks lined up on a second row to give the east drivers a head start due to the difference in horsepower. There were 14 trucks on the line that CJ would have to pass in order to make it to the front… with hole slew of veterans in the lineup including Kincaid, Hord, Menzies, Deegan, Lovell, and many more.
When the green flag flew, the “East” drivers screamed to turn one with Keegan Kincaid taking the holeshot followed by Chad Hord. After a 12 second delay, the “West” drivers bolted into action. CJ had his Monster Energy clad Pro2 in 4th place by lap 5 of the 9 lap, no competition caution, race. He was flawlessly catching the top 2 and made the pass on Chad Hord in the Argon turn. Hord appeared to have some mechanical problems. With Kincaid in his sites and time running out, CJ poured it on and caught the bumper of Kincaid on the white flag lap. He made the pass in the hairpin turn but Kincaid was not giving up. The two went nose-to-tail through the final turns. CJ was too strong and pulled of the win to capture the Pro2 World Championship.
CJ said from the podium: “I new it was going to be a dog fight out here today but it was just like we had never stopped racing this pro-2 because it was perfect today.”
PRO STOCK SXS UTV
SATURDAY: CJ started 2nd in a field of 30 Pro Stock SXS UTV’s. CJ and Adam Reek made it through the turn one mayhem unscathed and were patiently biding time, waiting for the wet track to dry. On lap one, Minerick and CJ got together in the gravel pit turn but both came through without any damage but the top two racers pulled away to a good lead. CJ carried his 3rd place position to the competition caution in the 12 lap race.
CJ was unable to make up any positions and finished 3rd on the podium where he also finished the season in the points standings. Reek made it as high as 6th before settling for a 8th place finish.
PRO STOCK SXS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
SUNDAY: 31 UTV’s lined up on 3 rows for a chance to claim the World Championship in the Pro Stock side-by-side UTV class. It was all CJ Greaves early on as he took the hole shot and the lead through the competition caution on lap 7. CJ lead the long line of UTV’s to the green flag to restart the race. He held his position and took his lead to the finish line–taking the win after leading from wire-to-wire and claiming his first World Championship in Pro Stock UTV.
PRO MOD SXS UTV
SATURDAY: After having issues early in the race, Rodney VanEperen was able to work his way into the top 10 by lap 2 in Saturday’s Pro Stock side-by-side UTV racing action. Needing to be in the top 10 to clinch the title, it was a stressful making laps and trying to keep his number 45 PowerSports1/Maxxis Tire, Yamaha out of trouble. On lap 7, a rollover brings out the full course caution that also took the place of the competition caution. When racing resumed, Rodney continued his meticulous and cautious move to the front, picking off one racer at a time. By the white flag lap, he had made it up to the 4th place position, where he remained until he took the checkered flag. The 4th place finish was more than enough to seal the deal and he took the 2018 MSCL Pro Mod SXS championship title.
“I love what Yamaha is doing to support racing as well as the consumer,” said Rodney after being crowned the Modified UTV champion. “They make an incredible side-by-side and I really appreciate what they are doing for the sport. And my crew works tirelessly to keep my car running great week after week. I tried to stay out of trouble today… it was very nerve racking to make it to the finish line.”
SUNDAY: With the championship in hand and the nerves calmed, VanEperen was ready to take on the 30 car field for the World Championship Cup race on Sunday. He made it through the landrush start and landed in 4th place. On lap one, another machine got into VanEperen’s Yamaha in the start/finish line turn. But he was able to continue and powered ahead to hold his 4th place position. He was looking strong when something broke in his steering sending him swerving back and forth on the front stretch in front of the capacity crowd. But he saved it while a caution flag came out at the same time due to another rollover. Rodney’s machine succumbed to damage due to previous contact and was unable to restart the race.
SPORTSMAN SXS UTV
FRIDAY: Gray Leadbetter continues to develop into a strong competitor behind the wheel of her number 28 Yamaha side-by-side UTV. On Friday, Gray, starting in the back, picked her way through the 25 car field and worked her way into the 12th position. Just as she was preparing to make a pass in the gravel pit turn, a fellow competitor over rotated and collected her in his spin, sending Gray’s machine to the back of the pack once again. She continued to push hard, passing multiple racers. But time ran out and she ended the race in 16th.
SATURDAY: In Saturday’s Sportsman SXS action, Gray suffered a flat but was able to nurse it in to the hot pits for a quick tire change at the competition caution went in for a quick change. When the green flag flew, she landed in 13th when racing resumed. A rollover brought out another caution on lap 5. By lap 6, Gray had broken into the top 10. She ended the race in an impressive 9th place.
After two days of racing, Gray Leadbetter walked-away feeling like she had accomplished her goals for the weekend and the season breaking into short-course off-road racing. She got plenty of seat time and was a very fast learner. The season went very well for Gray and will carry a lot of experience, excitement and momentum as she prepares for a full racing schedule in 2019.