CJ nails Monster Energy’s only podium on the rain-shortened Saturday race, then backs it on Sunday with a 2nd PRO Light rostrum appearance
Monster Energy off-road truck racer CJ Greaves stepped up to two podium finishes at his home state track, Wisconsin’s Crandon International Off-Road Raceway, this past weekend – going 2nd/2nd in two separate PRO Light class contests at the Forest County Potawatomi Brush Run, rounds five and six of the 2012 Traxxas TORC Series, presented by AMSOIL.
Considered by many to be the premier short course off-road track in the world, Crandon’s high speed straights, NASCAR-like banked clay turns and jumps that launch the trucks about half the length of a football field, Crandon’s known to be a track that separates the men from the boys. But in the Greaves’ case this past weekend it’d be CJ, all 16 years of him, that’d carry the TORC podium torch for the family as father Johnny Greaves ran into some bad luck and was unable to land his Monster Energy/Toyota/Maxxis PRO 4×4 truck on Sunday’s podiums (PRO 4 & Chairman’s Cup Challenge Race), having had his PRO 4 class rained out on Saturday.
CJ Greaves opened Saturday’s rain-shortened PRO Light main with a booming start, putting himself into 2nd place at Crandon’s famous high-banked Barn Turn. Tucked in behind Matt Cook, CJ would eventually grab the race lead – though it would be short-lived due to a spin in the muddy conditions. With Brad Lovell taking advantage of the younger Greaves’ misfortune, CJ would put ‘er into furious pursuit mode in an effort to catch Lovell.
Needing to make up a 3.5 second lead when the white flag flew denoting the last lap, CJ – in a virtual downpour – wasn’t able to gain the time and settled on 2nd.
“The conditions were terrible and it was tough to race,” said CJ Greaves. “But Brad did a good job for the win.”
Saturday’s PRO 2 and PRO 4 main events were postponed due to immense rain and unsafe conditions. They are scheduled to be made up the Friday prior to Crandon’s big World Championships event Labor Day Weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2).
With blue skies and perfect racing conditions on Saturday CJ gated for the PRO 2 main event, surviving an atomic crash in turn one that collected Andy Zipperer and Steve Barlow. Red-flagged, the race would be delayed for nearly an hour as the Crandon operations crew fixed a mangled infield guard rail.
Soon after the ensuing restart another massive wreck brought out a rare second red flag in the contest – and the race was again stopped. On the single file restart CJ got up to 4th place, and held that position strong though he was surrounded by veteran drivers, including a couple that were older than his dad!
Following his PRO 2 run CJ gated for the PRO Light main. And things looked to be solid early for the young gun as he worked his way up from 4th place at the start to the race lead, putting 4.5 seconds between himself and defending TORC PRO Light champ Andrew Caddell early in the contest.
As CJ clicked off fast laps his lead over Caddell increased to five seconds at the competition caution. But hold everything! TORC/USAC race officials deemed that CJ jumped the green flag at the start and docked him one place. So Caddell was allowed to move ahead of CJ in the bumper-to-bumper restart – a position Caddell would ultimately hold through the checkers, with a highly agitated CJ taking 2nd. And he let it be known on the podium that he wasn’t at all happy with the officials call.
“Guess they said I jumped the start, even though I came down the front straight and up to the Barn Turn in 4th place … then passed all those guys,” said the dejected CJ, who was still awarded the Traxxas Maxx Lap for putting up the fastest lap time on the day at Crandon.
Sunday’s PRO 4 contest had Johnny Greaves raging out of the start and quickly into podium position behind Ricky Johnson and Mike Jenkins. Greaves would dispatch of Jenkins soon thereafter and set his sights on RJ.
With Johnson and Greaves soon separating themselves from the rest of the pack, the two first came together on the corner before the starting line – with Greaves getting pushed up into the loam-covered concrete wall as Johnson would not relinquish his lead. About a half lap later Johnson would make a mistake and Greaves would jump all over him, taking the lead from Johnson – who went high in the corner heading into the Land Rush start straight – and barreling off towards the competition yellow. But a beautiful inside/out drifting power slide in front of the most crowded section of the 15K-plus audience by Johnson would send a warning blow across Greaves bow – though the Wisconsin native wouldn’t flinch – just yet.
Moments later Greaves spun and, in trying to right himself back on course, collected Johnson and the two came to a complete stop by the Oakley Island. The situation would damage Greaves’ truck, possibly knocking out the front wheel drive train. Johnson, who’s truck was at this point at least cosmetically jacked up, would take full advantage of this and regained the lead. Greaves would struggle for the remainder of the contest and Johnson would suffer mechanical failure as well.
The TORC weekend’s final event, the 19th annual Potawatomi Chairman’s Cup race pitted PRO 4 trucks vs. the PRO 2 trucks. So Johnny & CJ got to race together for the first time. But after torturing their vehicles just hours earlier, neither would figure on the overall podium, although Johnny led the time-handicapped PRO 4s – which started 12.5 seconds after CJ’s PRO 2 field – through the first turn before suffering a mechanical issue and retiring from the race on the second lap. CJ would make it halfway through the ten-lap race.
Next up on the Traxxas TORC Series, presented by AMSOIL, schedule is the July 19-20 race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Words by Pat Schutte
Photos by Mike Roth