The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Mixed Emotions with Wins and Near Misses for G-Team
Photos courtesy of Jeff Nemecek / TraxxasAbrams, WI (August 15, 2011)—The Monster Energy/Toyota/Maxxis team of Johnny Greaves, Marty Hart, and CJ Greaves headed to the familiar territory of Bark River International Raceway this past weekend for rounds 7 and 8 of the TORC Series. Johnny, Marty and CJ have all enjoyed a lot of success at this track located in the Upper Peninsula of Mich. There will only be one race held at Bark River this year so the G-Team was revved-up and ready to take on their respective classes. The record crowd witnessed some exciting racing as well as some ugly incidents on and off the track.
Johnny Greaves ended the weekend with a win on Saturday and a controversial 5th place on Sunday. He took a couple of Oakley Bomb awards, breaking the track record in the process. Marty would have his best showing with a 4th place finish on Saturday. Sunday he led a good portion of the race only to be involved in a freakish crash with the front running Chad Hord. CJ Greaves dominated the Super Buggy class with 2 wins and a 2nd place on the weekend. In his Pro Light program, he podiumed for the second time this year in the Sunday race with a 3rd place finish.
On Saturday, CJ was up first in the Super Buggy class. The first race was a make-up race. CJ dominated from green flag to checkered flag and took the win by a mile. His luck was not so good in the Pro Light Truck race. He worked his way up to 7th after starting from the back row of the grid due to a motor change. Unfortunately, he blew a tire and had to pit as the field went to yellow for the competition caution. The crew did a quick tire change and got him back out on the lead lap but had to work his way from dead last once again. He worked hard making a lot of passes and mustered a 9th place finish for Traxxas/ Monster Energy/Maxxis/Oakley/Toyota.
Up next was Marty Hart in the Pro 2WD class. Marty started on the front row and had a great start by winning the hole shot, and the lead. He was looking impressive as he led lap one in his Monster Energy/ ReadyLift/ GearUp2Go.com/ Maxxis Tire Toyota. The top 3 trucks began to pull away from the field with Marty leading and stretching it into lap 2 with Bryce Menzies and Jeff Kincaid in tow. On lap 3, Menzie hit Marty in the air off the RB jump allowing Bryce and Kincaid to pass him for the top 2 spots. At the restart following the competition caution, Marty did not get a good start. Both Chad Hord and Scott Taylor passed Hart sending him to 5th. Marty battled with Taylor and was able to pass him to finish 4th. The third place running Chad Hord began to experience mechanical problems with the finish line just a few turns away. However, he was able to hold on to third pushing Marty just off the podium but completed his best run of the season.
The regularly scheduled Super Buggy race was next. CJ hoped to capitalize on his win earlier in the day. Starting from the third row, he pushed hard through turn one of the rolling start, making it safely through and into third. When the leader spun-out, the top 2 racers- Steve Krieman and CJ Greaves were able to pull away to a huge margin over the rest of the field leading up to the competition caution.
On the restart, CJ made a great outside, inside move on Krieman to make the pass for the lead. Larry Job also passed Krieman into second as Krieman's vehicle began to develop problems. CJ and Job were 4 or 5 turns from the field when the final lap came around. Job tried several desperate attempts to get around the Monster Energy/Maxxis/Oakley sponsored buggy of Greaves but was unable to get in done. CJ cruised on for his 2nd win of the day.
The much anticipated Pro 4x4 race was up next. With the foofaraw from Charlotte still fresh in the minds of everyone, the Pro 4x4 race was sure to be an exciting one. Ricky Johnson won the hole shot but Johnny was right on his bumper. The two pulled away from the rest of the field and it was as if they were one truck all the way to the competition caution with Johnny pulling along side RJ several times.
On the restart, just about all the trucks made contact with each other as they attempted to get the nose of their truck out front first. Johnny and RJ collided in mid air as they came around the horseshoe turn. As Johnny's momentum slowed, Mike Jenkins was able to take advantage and move into the lead. Scott Douglas was on the inside of Johnny as he poured the coals to his Tundra's 4 Maxxis tires to get back up to speed. Meanwhile, Ricky Johnson's truck pulled off the track with a flat and possibly mechanical issues. By lap 8, Johnny used his favorite passing lane in Cemetery turn to get around Jenkins to take the lead.
Sunday's racing was equally as exciting. Up first was CJ Greaves in his Pro Light truck. CJ had a great start and went in and out of the top 5 through the first half of the race. He wound up in the top 4th at the competition caution. With only a few laps remaining, he passed Brad Lovell to take over the 3rd spot. He set his sites on the front runners but ran out of time and settled for the impressive 3rd place finish--his second podium of the year.
The Pro 2WD race was wild and crazy. Marty Hart started from the pole position. When the green flag flew, Marty charged to the horseshoe turn hole-shot, exiting the turn in first place. Scott Taylor lost control and went over the k-rail. Hart checked out and was looking very strong leading the entire first half of the race. On the restart, Marty's Toyota/Maxxis combination won the hole-shot once again with Chad Hord mixing it up behind him with Bryce Menzies. Chad passed Bryce and was able to overtake and pass Marty. As they entered the Cemetery turn, Chad slammed into the outside barrier, careened back into the path of Hart's machine, which crashed full speed into the side of Hord, then Menzies ran into them as they both were in the middle of the track. The crash took Marty out of a race that looked very promising for him.
CJ continued his success in the Super Buggy on Sunday with a second place finish. He sits firmly atop the points standing in first, 11 points ahead of the next competitor. CJ has either won or had a second place in every buggy race thus far this season.
The Pro 4x4 race featured the same type of mayhem as the Pro-2. Johnny dominated all but the last lap of the race. With the checkered flag in site and one more turn to take, it looked like Johnny Greaves would win his second race of the weekend over Ricky Johnson. However, Ricky aggressively hit Johnny in the side, turning him hard into the outside k-rail, taking him out of the race. RJ went on to win but was accessed a points penalty that amounted to a slap on the wrist for his rough driving. Johnny's Toyota was the fastest truck on the track earning him his second Oakley Bomb Award of the weekend. When the dust settled and USAC had made their ruling and the points tallied, Johnny and RJ were tied for first place in the standings with 135 points each.
Crandon International Raceway is the next stop for The Off Road Championship series on Labor Day weekend, September 3rd-4th. These crucial make-or-break races are sure to provide a lot of excitement for the 10's of thousand that make their annual pilgrimage to Crandon.