Greaves, Ruppel, Currie take the PRO Truck class wins—VanEperen and Greaves win in PRO UTV
JOLIET, Ill. (May 13, 2017) Past champs and first-time class winners highlighted the opening round of the 2017 TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL. Route 66 Raceway’s famed Dirt Oval played host to the nation’s most deeply rooted short course off-road racing series.
In a special Chicagoland Slam twist, the PRO races featured a joker lap: a shortcut-style cheat lap that each racer can take during any lap after the halfway point.
Here’s a breakdown of the PRO class events, beginning with the outstanding PRO 4 main event.
Two-time defending TORC Series PRO 4 champion CJ Greaves opened his 2017 campaign with a convincing main event win at Route 66 Raceway. CJ beat his father, Johnny Greaves, and long-time rival Keegan Kincaid in an all-Wisconsin sweep of the premier PRO 4 podium.
“You can’t pass ‘em if you’re following ‘em,” said CJ on his strategy to drive the lines opposite that his early race-leading father was taking. “So we worked the joker [lap] to our advantage after it was tight early. Happy for our team.”
The joker lap would play a crucial role in the PRO 4 final as CJ put a half-second on his dad, 23.0 to 23.5.
“That was a rough track with tough ruts. You basically had to throw the truck into the ruts and hope for the best,” said Johnny Greaves.
For Kincaid the podium finish came in a brand new truck—built by his father and former champ Jeff Kincaid. “We basically took it off the hauler and ran it in practice. So I thought it’d be best if I started from the back,” said Kincaid. “The track conditions were just brutal, but I got more comfortable every lap. Just wanted to be consistent this weekend.”
The PRO 2 field featured a host of competitors new to the class. King of Hammers Legends Class Champion and long time PRO 2 driver Brad Lovell turned his pole starting position into a strong early lead, leading the new and seasoned PRO 2 drivers through the checkers.
Mark Peterson ran well, holding second place for much of the race.
A timely joker lap caught Luke Johnson up to Lovell. As Johnson tried to square off the corner, Lovell connected with him behind the front door. The move docked Lovell from first to fifth place; giving former Super Truck driver and class representative Eric Ruppel the win.
“I know we got tangled up down the straight, got real rough there, but I tried to keep it clean,” said Lovell.
“I’m jacked up, but it’s a bittersweet feeling,” said Ruppel. “I don’t like to take a win that way, but I will.”
Added Johnson: “It was a very interesting last couple laps. I took the joker and came in door-to-door through the moguls, then took what I thought was a clean run at the corner and Brad got into me.”
In his first PRO 2 career race, the three-time Super Stock Truck class champion Mitch Dorr and Illinois native finished in third.
“Lost a cylinder, down to seven, pushed it to the end and was able to hold on and make the podium,” said Dorr. “Happy for our team, and I’m coming for Ruppel tomorrow.”
PRO Light veteran racer Casey Currie overcame a seventh place start to take the PRO Light win. Currie clocked a blistering .46.915 lap putting himself in an early lead and eventually taking the PRO Light win.
“Team’s got the truck dialed. We qualified terrible but finished well today. I’m stoked. Looking forward to tomorrow,” said Currie, the 2010 PRO Light Champion.
On lap four defending PRO Light champ Kyle Hart rocketed up to the top four–only to suffer a mechanical failure on lap six, which forced him to leave the race.
After running wide on an infield turn with three to go, Cody Kleiman yielded second back to Rayford, as they went on to finish in that order behind Currie. Cam Reimers capitalized, driving into fourth. Andrew Carlson, who had to work his way back up the field following an early-race rollover, came out of nowhere for fifth.
“It was huge for me today,” said Rayford of his second place podium finish. “I’m a pretty small team so to race with these guys was great. We’ll take second.”
Added Kyle Kleiman: “We had a couple big test days up at Crandon (Wisc.), me and my brother were up on the pole. So that was cool.”
UTV PRO Mod
During Saturday’s UTV PRO Mod final, Rodney VanEperen (Yamaha) pulled through, on two wheels, a last corner get together with Kyle Chaney (Can-Am). VanEperen out-sprinted Chaney to the finish line by an incredible 4/100ths of a second.Tim Farr (Can-Am) followed in close pursuit to finish third.
“I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of nerves going on out there,” said VanEperen. “I was more worried than I was racing. Rookie mistake and I gotta work on that.”
“The course was fun and these guys were fun to race with,” said Farr. “We went from slick, wet conditions to dry, dusty and tacky over the course of the race. So that was challenging. Looking forward to the next one.”
UTV PRO Stock
Great battle in the TORC season-opening PRO Stock UTV race as CJ Greaves (Yamaha/Maxxis) overcame a rough 13th place start, to hammer through the field and onto the podium. He did this despite having to swap an engine after practice.
“Gotta give it up to my team. We had to throw our practice engine into this Yamaha and it ended up running great,” said Greaves. “We knew it’d run because it had like 500 miles on it.”
Charging up front early was Kenny Masch (Yamaha/Maxxis), Zach Martin (Yamaha/Maxxis) and Daely Pentico (Yamaha/BFG).
With the manual-shifting Yamaha PRO Stock UTVs running up front Masch, Greaves and Martin – all running Yamaha’s – blasted out front after the competition caution and separated themselves from the field. Greaves would take the mandatory Joker Lap early, which played to his advantage.
“I planned on taking the joker before the competition caution, but ended up it taking it just after,” said Greaves. “And that worked out for us.”
“Last year I watched CJ on TV, went down to the dealer and got this Yamaha. And here I am today,” said Marsch from the podium.
Added Martin: “We were understaffed in the tear-offs department. We’ll be ready tomorrow.”
TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL returns to Route 66 Raceway on Sunday with gates opening at 10 am. Tickets are available at torcseries.com. A live broadcast of the day’s events will air starting with Sportsman classes at 11:30 am CDT and PRO classes at 2:30 CDT on torcseries.com and the official TORC Series Facebook page.
High-resolution images and other assets from Round One of TORC: The Off-Road Championship Chicagoland Slam are available for download HERE.
Qualified, working media professionals are invited to apply for media accreditation to upcoming series events HERE.
Sara Valerious | TORC PR/Communications Manager