Bark River, MI (June 16, 2014)–The TORC Series headed to Bark River for the “Throwdown in the U.P.,” the first of 2 weekends at the fabled track located in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The race, originally scheduled for St. Louis, quickly proved why Bark River is one of the favorite tracks for both drivers and fans. The track features big sweeping turns, fast corners, big-air jumps and one of the longest and most demanding tracks on the circuit.
Johnny and CJ Greaves put on a show for the huge crowd that witnessed some very exciting racing. When the dust settled, CJ took over first place in the Pro 2WD class by a narrow 1 point margin over Chad Hord and moved into 2nd place in the Pro Light class with 5 points separating him from 1st place. CJ had 2 second place finishes in Pro 2 and a 2nd and 3rd place finish in Pro Light where he overcame a mid-race black flag. Johnny stretched his lead in Pro 4×4 class by 16 points with a win on Saturday and 4 place finish on Sunday.
CJ positioned his Monster Energy, Toyota, Maxxis Tire, FC Potawatomi, Method Race Wheels sponsored Pro Light truck on row 2 of the huge field of more than 20 trucks rolling 2×2 to take the green flag. As the trucks screamed down the hill towards the turn-1-logjam, CJ landed in 4th and avoided what always looks like a sure crash situation. As the top 4 rounded the long sweeping cemetery turn, CJ squeezed his way through the group of trucks that went 3 wide and emerged in 3rd. He quickly went after and passed the 2nd place running machine of Morris. CJ Greaves went on the attack against Keagan Kincaid. As Kincaid landed sideways off the jump he checked up, CJ was in the air and couldn’t get on the brakes but Kincaid was already sideways in front of him and spun-out. CJ went to the lead but ended up receiving a black flag for the collision. He assumed the 12 spot just ahead of the competition caution. With the grandstands and hillside full of Greaves fans, the crowd was anticipating a great comeback, just like his dad has done many times in the past.
CJ Greaves worked his number 33 black Monster Energy Toyota back into the top 5 with a few laps to go and the top 3 way out in front. As it turns out, one man’s misfortune can be another man’s fortune. Doug Mittag was in the lead followed by Kincaid. Kincaid lost his entire right rear tire leading up to the white flag lap moving everybody up a spot in the process. CJ now found himself sitting in 4th with the 3rd podium within reach in the form of Luke Johnson. He kept his cool and with only 2 turns left in the race, made the pass to claim the 3rd place finish.
CJ put on his Pro-2 cap on and lined up on row 3 beside the points leading Chad Hord. CJ maneuvered his Toyota Tundra through turn one and was in 4th place by the end of lap one. Chad and CJ both passed Steve Barlow on the next lap to fall in behind the front running Jeff Kincaid. The top 3 checked out and stayed nose to tail until about 3 laps until the competition caution. CJ passed Hord on the long sweeper turn atop of the hill above turn one to take second with Kincaid a car link ahead. On the last turn on the last lap before the competition caution, CJ made a great inside-out move to take the lead. But, Kincaid drove in hard to the final turn and crashed into CJ to force his way back to the lead as they crossed the start/finish line at the caution.
Kincaid, CJ and Hord took the green flag restart and stayed nose to tail through the first lap. Then, CJ makes another inside-out move and passed Kincaid to momentarily take the lead. Once again, Kincaid turned-in to CJ forcing them both off the track. CJ got back in the gas and did a 360 turn back on to the track. Meanwhile, Chad Hord took advantage of the tangle between Greaves and Kincaid and took the lead and stretched it to a sizeable lead. Amazingly, CJ made it back on the track in 2nd place. With just a few laps to go, the number 76 truck caught fire, bringing out a full course caution–something Hord did not want to see but gave CJ the opportunity to make a late race charge. On the restart, CJ made several attempts to get around Chad Hord who also wears Maxxis tires. CJ settled for a hard fought 2nd place on the podium.
Johnny was up next in the Pro-4, 4-wheel-drive class. Johnny has enjoyed a lot of success at Bark River in the past and is clearly the truck to beat. He started on the row 2 and was in 4th when the field emerged from turn one. Within a few laps, Johnny had passed Cenni, Mike and Mark Jenkins to take the lead which he held up to the competition caution.
On the restart, Johnny took the holeshot and never looked back. He checked out to yet another win at Bark River.
Sunday the team was anxious to get back to racing and keep the momentum going. CJ lined up on row 3 at the front of a field of 23 trucks. Fortunately, CJ made it through a hair-raising turn one as some trucks went 3-wide in front of him and Luke Johnson doing a donut in the middle of the track. Lovell was in the lead but tangled with Mittag, loosing several spots. Lovell aggressively tried to get his momentum back and in the process, got into CJ. CJ was able to get around him to claim the 4th place spot as the competition caution flag flew.
The top 4 were fender-to-fender, nose-to-tail throughout the second half of the race. With just a few laps to go, Brooks, CJ and Mittag went 3-wide and they make contact with each other. CJ emerged in 3rd and went to work on Mittag. Greaves stuck the nose of his Monster Energy Toyota on the inside of Mittag on the long sweeper turn and made the pass for 2nd where he remained until the checkered flag.
In Pro-2, CJ again started on row 3 beside Chad Hord who won Saturday’s race and was the points leader. Jerit Johnson won the holeshop but CJ moved from 4th to first before the end of lap one. Just as the field was completing lap 1, Chad Hord hooked at tire barrier and did a barrel role in front of his hometown crowd that ended his race early and as a result of the DNF he relinquished the points lead to CJ by 1 point. CJ checked out on the restart and lead all the way through the competition caution until 3 laps to go. Kincaid passed him in the air as the top 2 had a huge lead on the field. CJ made several great moves to get around Kincaid but couldn’t make it happen and settled for 2nd place on the podium.
Johnny was up next in the Pro-4. Will all 4 Maxxis tires spinning, he maneuvered his machine in a cloud of dust into 4th place in the long cemetery turn and went after the 3rd place running Scott Douglas. The Jenkins brothers were up front. Douglas was doing his best to hold off the hard charging Greaves when developed a right front flat. With a couple laps to the competition caution, he held it together long enough to duck into the hot pits for the tire change just ahead of the competition caution. The crew quickly changed the tire and got him back on the track in time to catch the back to the field before the green flag.
After the restart, the 3rd place running Adrian Cenni blew a tire and limped around the track. Douglas and Johnny moved up a spot with only a few laps to go. Johnny tried to get around Douglas but had to settle for a 4th place, just off the podium. However, he was able to increase his points lead to 16 points up.
“Five podiums this weekend, that’s huge!” said Greaves. “We love Bark River, the track, the fans, the atmosphere, it’s all fun and exciting to be a part of. We had great trucks all weekend and very proud of the team for the effort.”
Greaves went on to say, “We can’t say it enough but we really appreciate all of our sponsors including the sponsored equipment we are running. We only have the best and it makes a difference. Like today, with all the dust, the MagnaFlow system really came through for us. And as always, our Toyotas were on rails and the Maxxis tires were hooking up, and with the big jumps, the Fox Shox got it done. Everything… it gave us the edge.”
Next up, “the Big House Brawl” at Crandon International Raceway on June 28th and 29th for rounds 7 and 8. This will be the first of 2 at the legendary track and will be pivotal in the very tight points races in all three classes. The race will air on the NBC Sports Network on July 13th at 6:30PM.