Ft. Worth Texas (May 27-27, 2016)
What looked to be a repeat of last year’s rain soaked opener, turned out to be no problem for the TORC Series’ kickoff of the 2016 season this past weekend at the dirt track at Texas Motor Speedway. Rain prior to the racing brought the black, rich dirt to life as the dynamic duo of Johnny and CJ Greaves were prepped and ready to once again do battle in the dirt with their Toyota powered 3-truck lineup. CJ was looking to defend his amazing dual championships: (back-to-back) Pro-2 and his first Pro-4, while Johnny was ready to expand on his legendary career. CJ landed 2 podiums in Pro-2, but mechanical problems plagued his Pro-4 races. He was running a solid 2nd place when he had to pull out of the first race and was in the lead when he broke something in the 2nd race. Johnny Greaves was on point winning his season opener and pulling off a 2nd place finish despite loosing front-wheel drive early in round 2.
“Not really the way I wanted to start the season,” said the defending champ, CJ Greaves. “The team worked really hard to have the trucks ready and something just broke. But it’s a long season and we are going regroup and get it done in Chicago.”
Friday, the rain stopped and the track crews worked feverishly to get the track ready for racing. With a slight delay, the roar of 900 horsepower racing trucks once again filled the air of the dirt track at Texas Motor Speedway. CJ Greaves was first to dig his Maxxis tires into the Texas black dirt that still had a lot of moisture in it from the rain. Bearing the red number 33 plate signifying his championship status, he rolled off from the pole in the 6-truck field to kick-off the season.
When the green flag flew, CJ held his lead through the first half of the race. Keegan Kincaid began to close in on CJ and was able to take the lead on the front stretch. CJ was unable to retake the lead and settled for a 2nd place podium finish.
Johnny and CJ Greaves started from the back of the 7-truck Pro-4 field. Johnny in his black and green number 22 Monster Energy/Maxxis Tire/ Toyota and CJ in his orange and black Maxxis Tire/Monster Energy/Toyota number 33. Douglas took the lead, but Johnny quickly shot up to 2nd as the field wound its way through the tight turns and table tops of the converted oval track’s infield. CJ was holding on to 4th as Johnny moved to the inside of Douglas which set him up to take the lead on the front stretch. CJ moved up to 3rd and began to pressure Douglas on lap 6. The top 3 pulled away. CJ, also pulling an inside move on Douglas, took 2nd as the entered turn 1 leading up to the competition caution.
Johnny and CJ lead the field to the green flag. But, shortly after the restart, CJ experience a problem in his drive train that sidelined him for the duration of the race. Johnny stretched his lead that he carried to the finish line for his first win of the season.
CJ Greaves rolled his Monster Energy/Maxxis Tire/Toyota Tundra from row 2 beside Kyle Hart for the 20 lap race in Saturday’s Pro-2 action. Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Brad Lovell were trading licks in the front while Keegan Kincaid and CJ were battling side-by-side. Arie had a flat allowing Kincaid to take 2nd with CJ and Kyle Hart battling for the 3rd spot. Kincaid would eventually take the lead and Hart made his way to 2nd. The defending champ could not find a way around Hart who was able to swap podium positions with CJ–Kinkaid with the win, followed by Kyle Hart, and CJ taking the runner up spot on the podium.
After a night of working on CJ’s truck, the team was ready to make another go at a good finish on Saturday. CJ started in the front and Johnny in the back. CJ was strong at first, holding the lead through the first lap when disaster struck again, taking him out of the competition.
Johnny Greaves would also experienced some mechanical issues. On lap 3, he was running strong in 2nd and making a hard push for the lead when he lost his front differential, causing him to do an abrupt 360 in the infield hairpin turn sending him to the back of the field. Johnny struggled with it for awhile but decided to concentrate on trying to get faster on the track by adjusting to the problem.
Following the competition caution, Johnny Greaves was able to generate some fast lap times by changing his driving style to work better with the track and with only two-wheel-drive. In fact, he was able to make an inside move on the front running Scott Douglas to take the lead only to have Douglas retake it on the front stretch. Johnny fought back and again took the lead as the laps wound down. Chad Hord was also able to pass Douglas for 2nd. Hord was able to catch up with Johnny and take the lead on the final lap. Johnny held on to finish the race in 2nd with Hord winning his first Pro-4 race.
The Greaves Duo will head to Chicago in a couple of weeks to another converted oval track. The midweek races will take place at the Route 66 dirt track next to Chicagoland NASCAR track on June 10-11th.