The epic off-road feud between Johnny Greaves and Ricky Johnson ratchets up another few clicks as JG wins Bark River
In front of a record attendance crowd at Michigan’s Bark River Raceway, round seven of the 2011 Traxxas TORC Series, presented by AMSOIL, off-road short course racing’s latest Ali & Frazier duel – Johnny Greaves (Monster Energy/Toyota/Maxxis) vs. Ricky Johnson (Red Bull/KMC Wheels/Mopar/Ram – ratcheted back up into a PRO 4×4 fight on dirt, with Greaves showing some teeth and prevailing for the second-straight time.
In the day’s final event in front of the packed house at Bark River Raceway, Greaves and Johnson separated themselves from the rest of the TORC PRO 4×4 field early, putting some 15-seconds on then 3rd place Mike Jenkins (Traxxas/BFG/AMSOIL) by the Competition Yellow. All heck then broke loose at the restart of the second five laps of the ten-lap main event around the 1.5-mile Bark River course when Greaves and Johnson came together – and Johnson’s Ram was left in disarray, smoking heavily from the rear of the truck.
“The contact was unfortunate, but it was good running with Ricky,” said Greaves. “We’d struggled in qualifying and practice, but our set up ended up being good enough to run with Ricky. And it turned into a pretty good race for the fans.”
With Johnson limping back to the pits – leading the track announcer to say “Oh, there’s gonna be some ACTION back in the pits!” – Jenkins took advantage of Greaves’ get together with the former AMA motocross star and snatched the lead from Wisconsin native. But that lead would be short-lived as Greaves set Mike Jenkins up on Bark River’s infamous “Cemetery” turn and never looked back, putting 5.5 second on the #47 Ford en route to the checkers and the Oakley Bomb award for the fastest lap.
Behind the two combatants Scott Douglas (AMSOIL/BFG/MasterCraft Safety) had somewhat quietly snuck into the fray, clocking some of the day’s fastest laps. The veteran and former desert racer caught Jenkins and, while Greaves checked out, the two traded decals before an apparent miscue from Douglas, which looked like a momentary slip out of gear, would cost Douglas a fantastic run at 2nd place.
“Hat’s off to Scott Douglas – he’s a real professional,” said Jenkins after the race. “I was slowed up in a couple of spots and he (Douglas) never bumped me, never hit me. And we ended up putting on a real good show for everyone.”
1st – Johnny Greaves
2nd – Mike Jenkins
3rd – Scott Douglas
4th – Steve Barlow
5th – Milan Mazenec
6th – Al Drews
7th – Ricky Johnson
8th – Mark Jenkins
With an absolute bananas airborne pass over the hood of Marty Hart (Monster Energy/Toyota/Maxxis), Bryce Menzies (Red Bull/KMC Wheels/Mopar/Ram) made it two Traxxas TORC Series PRO 2 class wins in a row, taking top honors on Saturday at Bark River Raceway.
Menzies, who also put up the Oakley Bomb aware fastest lap time in the race, his third Oakley Bomb this year, gained 12 points on PRO 2 overall series leader, Rob MacCachren (Traxxas/Mopar/AMSOIL/BFG), cutting MacCachren’s 15-point lead down to two points. Noteworthy is the fact that MacCachren was injured (broken collarbone) in racing action last week. He gutted out five painful laps before handing the #21 Ram truck over to Keith Steele. Steele would record one pass and place 7th as a legal replacement driver for MacCachren – salvaging a highly-important 12 points.
But it would be Menzies’ day as pulled a pass that will no doubt be replayed time and time again this year on the 2011 TORC – The Off-Road Championship TV Show on Discovery HD Theater.
“We qualified 1st and started up front, but Marty (Hart) got out ahead of us,” said Menzies of the holeshot-pulling Hart. “We pulled a little ballsy move to get out front of him and were able to close up the points with Rob (MacCachren).
“It’s unfortunate that Rob was injured and wasn’t able to be out there at 100-percent. Hopefully he’ll be back soon.”
Wisconsin’s Jeff Kincaid (Ford/BFG) made it two podium weekends in a row (3rd Friday @ Charlotte) with a consistent run at 2nd place. Kincaid got past Hart after the thrilling Menzies airborne pass, then held strong to 2nd through the Comp Yellow and – ultimately – the end of the race.
And grabbing 3rd place in the PRO 2 was hometown U.P. racer Chad Hord (BOSS Snowplows/AMSOIL/Nissan). Hord rallied from a mediocre start and caught and passed both Scott Taylor (Miller Electric Welders) and Hart, positioning himself in 3rd at the Comp Yellow. And while charging to catch 2nd place Kincaid, Hord over-cooked his #9 Nissan a bit and, trailing blue smoke and occasional flames, was able to hold off a charging Hart (4th). Mike Vanden Heuvel (Maxxis/ATD Trans/Boatec) would run an excellent second half of the race to place 5th.
Said Hord: “Ya know it’s great to be up here on the podium again. This class is tough … it’s stacked … and we smoked ‘er a bit there at the end. But we’ll get it figured out tonight and be back after it tomorrow.”
1st – Bryce Menzies
2nd – Jeff Kincaid
3rd – Chad Hord
4th – Marty Hart
5th – Mike Vanden Heuvel
6th – Scott Taylor
7th – Rob MacCachren/Keith Steele
8th – Mike Oberg
Andrew Caddell (Traxxas/Mopar/AMSOIL/BFG) continued to put up the fastest laps in the TORC PRO Light class, picking up at Bark River where he left off at Charlotte Motor Speedway, winning the Traxxas Maxx Lap and parlaying that into a 1st place finish in the Saturday PRO Light main at Bark River.
“The team gave me a great truck and I had to take some chances to stay out front of Sam Hubinette,” said Caddell, who takes over the 2011 Traxxas TORC PRO Light points lead over defending champ Casey Currie. “The truck made me look pretty good out there. I was struggling in some areas.”
Pulling the holeshot on the high speed, wide open Bark River Raceway course, Caddell led Hubinette (Traxxas/Mopar/AMSOIL/BFG) and Currie (Monster Energy/General Tire/Nissan) down the downhill start section and into the first right hand sweeper. Caddell would never look back, leading by five seconds to the midway Competition Yellow.
Towards the end of the first half of the race a great battle was brewing between Currie and Luke Johnson (Red Bull/KMC Wheels/Mopar/Ram), with Johnson nearly getting past the defending champ. After the Comp Yellow flew, Johnson tracked and caught Currie after an amazing recovery on the start line jump, then passed Currie with four laps to go on the same section where he almost lost it, went inside on the wide-turning Currie and – after some door-to-door racing for a couple corners, passed Currie and made it stick in front of the Bark River faithful.
“I’m so excited to be up here. We’ve worked awful long and hard to make this happen, so it’s about time,” said Luke Johnson. “My dad (Ricky Johnson) was about to cry when I got out of the truck … he was so proud of me.”
Rounding out the top five were Currie (4th) and Shawn Morris (Maxxis/Chevy) in 5th.
1st – Andrew Caddell
2nd – Samuel Hubinette
3rd – Luke Johnson
4th – Casey Currie
5th – Shawn Morris
6th – Brad Lovell
7th – Randy Eller
8th – Eric Ruppel
9th – CJ Greaves
10th – Michael Baker
11th – Keegan Kincaid
12th – Andy Zipperer
13th – Todd Cunningham
14th – Ellenson/Janusz
15th – RJ Anderson
Words by Pat Schutte
Photos by Jeff Nemecek