Crandon International Raceway, AKA “The Big House” has been the place where huge crowds of faithful fans have gathered, series championships have been won, incredible memories created, and history has been made for four-and-a-half decades. Johnny Greaves has been a big part of that legendary story, having experienced world championships, cup wins, and hundreds of trips to the podium. And now, would he pass the mantle to his son, CJ Greaves? Would CJ make history and become the first TORC Series driver to win both a Pro-2 and a Pro-4 championship in the same year? If so, it would all come down to the final race in Pro-2 with only 5 points separating CJ from 2nd place Keegan Kincaid. Saturday, CJ would get pushed off the track and, with a 5th place finish, it added another layer of intensity and drama to the Pro-2 season finale on Sunday.
As everyone knows by now, the answer is “yes,” CJ did add another line in the history books once again by taking the Pro-2 and Pro-4 championships–the first time this has ever been accomplished in the same year. He put an exclamation point on the season by also winning the AMSOIL Cup race by holding off a hard charging Chad Hord at the finish line.
Johnny, also had an incredible year. He finished 2nd in the points standings and added 5 wins including a FC Potawatomi Cup win along with 11 podiums to his illustrious career.
The drama started on Saturday as the TORC Series began round 15 at Crandon International Raceway. CJ Greaves in his black number 33 Monster Energy/Maxxis Tire/ Toyota was ready to defend his 2014 championship. When the green flag finally flew, CJ grabbed the holeshot followed by Keegan Kincaid and Marty Hart. Kincaid was within shot of grabbing the championship from CJ, so he and Greaves became engulfed in their own duel, putting on an unbelievable show for the Crandon faithful the entire race. In the first half of the race, Kincaid was glued to CJ’s bumper for 4 laps. Then the two changed positions on lap 5 when Keegan went inside of CJ in the gravel pit corner. Now, CJ stuck to the bumper of Kincaid for the 2 laps leading up to the competition caution, at the midway point of the race.
The second half of the race produced some of the most action-packed racing of the season between the two young guns battling it out to see who would take the Pro-2 title with Keegan Kincaid trying to unseat the reigning champ. On the restart, Arie Luyendyk broke on the track causing a complete restart. When racing resumed, CJ passed Kincaid for the lead in the gravel pit turn, only to lose it in the finish line corner. He was able to pass Kincaid again in the argon turns–then Kincaid regained the lead in the finish line turn as CJ went high in the berm. In another skirmish, the two trucks went side-by-side, making slight contact. CJ was unable to get control and ended up spinning into the infield. CJ rejoined the tail-end of the field. With only 2 laps to go, it didn’t give CJ much time to recuperate. He worked hard though to make up as much ground as possible, but finished 5th setting up a gut wrenching showdown on Sunday for the championship.
In Pro-4 on Saturday, CJ was hoping to edge closer to the Pro-4 championship. With a fairly substantial points lead, it would take a miracle for the second place driver–who happened to be none other than Johnny Greaves–to overtake the younger Greaves.
Keegan Kincaid, filling in for Mike Jenkins and in his first Pro-4 race, took the holeshot with CJ and fellow Monster Energy driver Kyle LeDuc going side-by-side through the first turn and Johnny following close behind. Kyle passed CJ in the argon turn which made the running order: Kincaid, LeDuc, CJ and Johnny.
LeDuc made a hard charge on Kincaid and the top two pulled away from the CJ and Johnny, who also began to have a tire going down.
Just ahead of the competition caution, Kyle over rotated at the finish line turn giving CJ the opportunity to make the pass. As they took the yellow flag for the caution, Keegan Kincaid was still in the lead, followed by CJ, then Kyle, then Johnny.
After the restart, Kyle made an aggressive move with a slide-job on CJ, breaking CJ’s momentum and allowing Kyle to take the position. On the next lap, LeDuc continued his aggressive driving and got into Kincaid nearly sending him off the track–but Kincaid was able to recover quickly and hold his spot, with LeDuc on his bumper. CJ was also in the mix and was pressuring LeDuc just as hard. As they rounded the “Barn” turn, Kincaid’s truck experienced serious mechanical issues causing a chain reaction–LeDuc checked-up causing CJ to collide with LeDuc, spinning CJ into the infield. Keegan had to pull out of the race, handing the lead over to Kyle LeDuc. Johnny, Douglas and Hord all got around CJ in the incident and giving LeDuc a healthy lead.
Douglas broke and Johnny’s tire began to shred apart. Chad Hord also had a flat taking him out of contention. Meanwhile, CJ was pouring it on to get back to the front. With only 2 laps to go, CJ Greaves was able to catch the field in classic Greaves fashion– passing each one, taking advantage of everyone else’s misfortune. Both CJ and Johnny were able to battle back to podium finishes despite the race incidents. Kyle LeDuc took the win, followed by CJ and Johnny for a Monster Energy podium sweep.
Sunday, all CJ had to do in the Pro-4 was take the green flag to wrap up his first Pro-4 championship for Maxxis Tire, Monster Energy, Toyota, Method Race Wheels, FC Potawatomi, and a host of other great sponsors. The race was not without drama though. Kyle LeDuc nearly pushed Johnny off the track going into turn one. Johnny and CJ were running 3 and 4 behind Kyle. As Johnny rounded the gravel pit turn, LeDuc drifted up into Johnny’s race line. The two made contact and spun off the track as Johnny’s bumper hooked-up with Kyle’s. Johnny backed-it into the pylon. He was able to drive his Monster Energy/Maxxis Tire/Toyota away for several more laps, but the damage ended up being too severe and he pulled out of the race at the competition caution. Some thought that Johnny had received a black flag, but that was not the case.
CJ wrapped up the championship by completing the first lap. With the championship in hand, he “put his head down and went to racing.” Keegan Kincaid, sitting in for Mike Jenkins, was in the lead with CJ in 3rd behind Scott Douglas. CJ tried several times to get around Douglas and finally made the pass stick on the white flag lap in some great head-to-head racing. Kincaid went on to get his first Pro-4 win, followed by CJ in 2nd and Douglas in 3rd.
The Pro-4 championship celebration had to be put on hold as CJ prepared for the Pro-2 race. With only 5 points separating CJ from Keegan Kincaid, CJ had to play it cool and smart as he took on the 12 truck field. Goal number 1–make it through Potawatomi turn one. CJ lined up in the middle for the famous land rush start. He made it through turn 1 unscathed and in 3rd place. Kincaid got the holeshot with Marty Hart between the two top points leaders. The field settled down until Hart made a last turn effort to pass Kincaid leading up to the competition caution but couldn’t make it stick.
Following the restart, Hart was able to make the pass on Kincaid on the back stretch. With about 3 laps to go, CJ began to experience some mechanical issues which allowed Doug Mittag to make a run for CJ’s position. CJ was barely holding him off when Mittag over-rotated coming out of the back hairpin turn, giving CJ relief and allowing him to cruise on to the finish line unchallenged.
Hart went on to win the race with Kincaid in 2nd. CJ finished the race in 3rd but earned the necessary points to take back-to-back Pro-2 titles and complete the history making Pro-4/Pro-2 double championships in the same season.
With Johnny’s truck severely damaged in the Pro-4 race, and the Pro-2 truck also ailing, he did not race in the AMSOIL Cup. CJ, would represent the team in his Maxxis Tire Pro-4. Rain and the threat of more rain put the cup race in jeopardy. After a short delay, the race between the Pro-2’s and Pro-4’s was on. USAC did not determine the interval between the 2 classes until just before the race in order to take into account the rain and track conditions which ended up being a 25 second head start for the Pro-2’s.
Marty Hart got the holeshot for the Pro-2’s. After a 25 second wait, the Pro-4’s took the green flag and headed for the Potawatomi turn one. Keegan Kincaid got the holeshot with CJ close on his tail. There was a lot of water on the track which gave the Pro-4’s a definite advantage. Kincaid, Greaves and Hord caught the Pro-2’s after only a few laps.
Kincaid suffered a mechanical issue and CJ took the lead. With 2 laps to go, CJ lost a gear which allowed Chad Hord to close-in on him. As the two went nose-to-tail to the final turn, Hord tried to make the pass and edged the nose of his truck past the right quarterpanel of CJ’s orange and black number 33 as they went through the finish line turn. CJ was able to hold him off and take the win. If the race had gone one more lap, CJ may not have been able to hold the lead.
“Well this year has been crazy, but in the best way! I don’t even know where to start,” Greaves said in a Facebook post. “First off I need to thank everyone on the Greaves Motorsports team! My mom, dad, sister, Brad, Devin, Boots, Cody, Kyle, the whole Hass family, Ken and Jeri, Quick Rick, Georgia, Jake, Carson, Mike, Travis and there families. Also all of our awesome sponsors that have stuck with us threw it all Monster Energy, Toyota, Maxxis Tires, Method Race Wheels, AMSOIL, FoxShox, MasterCraft Safety, LiquidForce, Boatec, Rigid Industries, Troy Lee Designs, FC Potawatomi, GoPro, Race AKA, Schelle Racing and Victory Signs.
“To say the least this team was on point this year and everyone of these people deserve credit for working their butts off keeping our trucks up front,” Greaves continued.
“Congrats Team Greaves!” said Kathy Greaves on Facebook. “With two championships, a 2nd in points, and two cup wins, your hard work and dedication has paid off! Thank you to each and every one of you that make our team what it is–we couldn’t be successful without every piece of the puzzle. Here’s to a great 2015. I couldn’t be more proud of you!”
“This has been a very challenging but exciting year,” said Johnny Greaves. “I was working hard to win and compete for my own program while at the same time cheering on CJ. We all work together and share information. CJ’s instincts have become very sharp. I am proud of what he has been able to accomplish this year. We couldn’t do it without the great team, all our sponsors and fans for having our back every step of the way!”
Greaves Motorsports left the Labor Day weekend races having won 2 championships, a runner up spot in Pro-4, and a AMSOIL cup champion. On the year, CJ had podium finishes in all but 1 race. His 16 podiums included 9 wins, 6 second place finishes including a 2nd place finish in the FC Potawatomi Cup race, and 1 third place–all totaled up to earn him the 2015 Pro-4 title. He had 12 podiums in Pro-2 with 6 wins, 4 second places and 2 third place. He pulled off the remarkable double championships with the Pro-2 title. Johnny Greaves also had a stellar year. He added another 12 podiums to his legendary career. The podiums included 5 wins, 6 second place finishes and 1 third place. One of his wins was the FC Potawatomi Cup race.