ELK RIVER, Minn. – TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL returned to the technical ERX Motor Park track for round four of the Twin Cities Takedown, and this weekend year-end championships are on the line.
The first of a triple race weekend in Elk River, the race played out under sunny skies as one of hottest days of the year greeted racers and fans. Yet the blistering heat was matched on the track, as racers took to a revamped track featuring more jumps, racing lines, and intense racing action.
With only two points separating C.J. Greaves and his father Johnny in the chase for the PRO 4 crown, every inch of dirt mattered in Friday’s final. However, those inches turned to seconds, as C.J. went to work on the technical track with a methodical madness, resulting in lines others couldn’t find and a 3-second victory over his father.
Ross Hoek grabbed the early lead from his pole position with Scott Douglas in tow. But it didn’t take Johnny Greaves long to close up on Hoek’s bumper. With Hoek driving in all-out mode, truck swapping from side-to-side in the ruts, Johnny ran the cool and collective line, and quickly found himself at the front of the PRO 4 field. Not far behind was C.J., who almost seemed to toy with his father for several laps before pouncing with a brilliant outside/inside pass in the banked Talladega turn.
Johnny tried to keep it close, but C.J. continued to pull away. Behind them, Keegan Kincaid battled intermittent power steering issues, yet managed to find the moxie and racing lines to move into third. The win was C.J.’s seventh on the season, and it gave him a four-point cushion over his father in the championship chase with two races to go.
“This is his kind of track,” said Johnny Greaves, giving the nod to his son on the victory. “He’s methodical…he knows where to slow down and where to put the truck…I think my pace picked up when I started to follow him.”
He waited all summer to make it happen, but Mike Vanden Heuvel returned to PRO 2 TORC Series action at ERX Motor Park, and picked up right where he left off this past spring, atop the box.
The ERX repeat victory for Vanden Heuvel didn’t come without plenty of drama along the way. The 14-lap final was filled with passing, contact, full-field cautions, and perhaps one of the most challenging and rutted tracks on the tour.
But beyond Vanden Heuvel’s win, the story within the race was the battle for the PRO 2 championship between point leader Luke Johnson and bridesmaid Brad Lovell. With Mark Peterson getting the early lead, it was Luke Johnson looking to stretch his lead as he settled into second ahead of Vanden Heuvel. Eventually the smooth lines of Vanden Heuvel moved him past both Johnson and Peterson; and not far behind was Eric Ruppel, who kept the leaders in sight throughout much of the race.
As this lead pack battled to sort out the final positions atop the box, hometown boy Andrew Carlson was on the move, charging from 13th position to eventually third just prior to the final full-course caution restart of the race. It was here where Carlson dove under Johnson, contact was made, and Johnson found himself against the concrete safety barrier. He salvaged a tenth place, but his points lead over Lovell dwindled in the process.
Following Vanden Heuvel across the line was Carlson in second and Eric Ruppel in third.
“It took us all summer to do it, but we finally got to complete our sweep on the weekend,” Vanden Heuvel said, alluding to his spring win at ERX prior to round four being postponed due to weather.
Kyle Kleiman won an eventful PRO Light feature, and in the process put the year-end championship in a stranglehold.
From the pole, Shawn Morris grabbed the early lead, and through some savvy lane choices, opened up a multi-truck lead over the rest of the pack. However, that lead was short lived when he was tagged by Andrew Carlson coming out of the braking bumps entering the Talladega turn.
The contact shuffled Morris back several positions and left him hot under the collar for the rest of the race. The move also gave Carlson the lead, but it was short lived, as Carlson rotated too soon in the turn-back corner and put his truck on the door. That was all it took for Cody and Kyle Kleiman to move to the front. While Cody was looking strong, it wasn’t enough to prevent Kyle from making what was perhaps the smoothest pass of the day, charging into the Talladega corner high, rotating early and exiting low with a tremendous run.
Morris would eventually find himself back in the podium mix, but not before battling once again with Carlson. This time though, Morris would get the upper hand. In the closing laps, Morris took advantage of a front flat tire on Cody’s truck to move into second place between a Kleiman brother bookend – Kyle taking the win and Cody finishing third.
Kyle Chaney picked up a victory in PRO Mod UTV while C.J. Greaves continued his domination of the PRO Stock UTV class with another victory.