48th Annual Labor Day Races at Crandon
For 48 years, Crandon International Raceway has celebrated the biggest weekend in short-course off-road racing, and it never disappoints.
It was a soggy start to the weekend as TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL hosted Round 11; and the world’s best off-road racers battled for the “Keys to the Big House”. With heavy early morning rain, the track served up a tricky combination of mud, fluff, and slick racing groove. Yet, that didn’t deter the record-setting crowds from filling the stands and blanketing the hillsides adjacent to Crandon’s legendary Turn One.
PAYBACK TIME – CJ GREAVES EDGES JOHNNY OUT FOR THE WIN
The path to this year’s PRO 4 championship has been a father-son dog fight since the first race. Coming into the weekend, only 10-points separated CJ Greaves and his father Johnny atop the year-end points standings. While both Chad Hord and Ross Hoek looked to shake up the pecking order early in the PRO 4 final, it eventually turned into another Greaves duel that went down to the final turn.
From the green, it was Johnny getting the early jump and plenty of open track to do what he does best…lay down some wicked fast lap times. In fact, Johnny led every lap, except the one that mattered most. CJ Greaves didn’t have the best of starts, collecting plenty of roost within the cab as he watched Hoek and Hord battle for position ahead of him. But it was their back and forth intensity that eventually opened the door for CJ to pass both and set his sights on his father.
As the laps wound down, CJ closed the gap to within a truck length. It was a flashback moment for both drivers to this past spring’s Crandon race where CJ was leading until Johnny tagged and spun his son out for the win. This time, the tables were turned and CJ brought the heat into the second to last turn, shoved the nose of his truck under Johnny’s, and made an inside pass for the win.
“I guess I had that one coming,” said Johnny, referring to the contact and subsequent spin that gave CJ the win. “He ran me down and passed me…and that’s the way I raised him.”
ANDREW CARLSON GRABS HOLESHOT AND WIN IN PRO 2
Labor Day weekend at Crandon not only brings out the best in a racer, it brings out the best racers too. Both PRO 2 and PRO Light saw the biggest fields of the 2017 season, and in the mix were past champions, top racers from the West Coast, and even an NHRA Top Fuel drag racer. But full starting grids and a mud-laden track didn’t slow Andrew Carlson, who burst from the land rush start, held it on through a slick turn one, and never looked back.
Throughout the 9-lap final, only Brad Lovell had anything for Carlson. Lovell attempted to keep Carlson honest and show him a fender early after the competition caution, but that was as close as he ever got. Lovell looked to have second place well in hand, but a last-lap mechanical issue turned over the position to PRO 2 points leader Luke Johnson, who worked his way up from fifth and passed eventual third place finisher Eric Ruppel in the closing laps.
The win was Carlson’s third in PRO 2, who made his debut in the class just a few races prior. “I’ve struggled at Crandon in the past,” said Carlson after the race. “I’ve never had the holeshot here, but coming through turn one and not seeing anybody…I was ecstatic.”
CREAM RISES TO THE TOP AS KYLE KLEIMEN WINS AGAIN
With racers coming from literally all over North America for the biggest weekend in short-course racing, the final PRO Light field was stacked with talent as 18 trucks came to the line for the legendary land rush start. But as the old adage goes, the cream rises to the top, it most certainly did in PRO Light as current points leader and winner of the six races this season Kyle Kleiman grabbed the lead in turn one and never looked back.
With several new or returning faces in the mix, the running order behind Kyle was up for grabs, but as the laps wore down and the competition caution reset the field, the familiar podium runners of Travis Dinsmore, Cam Reimers, and Cody Kleiman battled for the final two spots on the box. At the line, it was Reimers coming across in front of Cody, who held second place for much of the race, losing it only momentarily in the closing laps, but regained the spot in the final lap.
The win was Kyle Kleimen’s seventh of the season, and further tightened his near certain grip on the year-end championship. “After the Red Bud race, we completely rebuilt this truck,” said Kyle upon exiting the truck victoriously. “Everyone worked their butts off, but this is what you get from all your hard work and it’s paying off.”
GREAVES CAN’T BE STOPPED IN PRO STOCK UTV
Apparently, nothing can stop CJ Greaves and his absolute dominance in PRO Stock UTV. Despite executing his worst start of the season on a very muddy track, Greaves once again worked quickly to dispose of the likes of Dillon Pointon, Jake Lunderby, and Robert Loire to find the front and stay there. With Greaves in the lead, Crandon fans were treated to a battle for the bridesmaid position as Pointon held the spot for much of the race, but with pressure from Lunderby. Finally, Pointon went high-side bicycle, relinquishing second to Jake. Then in the closing lap, Zach Martin made one final charge in a bid to return to the podium, and snuck around Pointon for third. “It’s muddy out there,” Greaves said after the race. “But it’s not as bad as it looks…the main line was dry and had some good bite.”
FARR NOTCHES SECOND WIN IN PRO MOD UTV
While Rodney Van Eperen has been the driver with the most wins in PRO Mod UTV, it has been the consistency of Kyle Chaney, who has notched seven runner-up finishes and two wins on the season, and sits first in the championship chase. The pressure of being atop the standings may have attributed to Chaney’s early aggression, determined driving style, and extra contact. It was enough to put Kyle in the lead early, but in what appeared to be a tire going down, Chaney saw his podium chances flicker and fade. Instead, it was Tim Farr taking the win followed by a hard-charging Van Eperen in second, and Thomas Reihner in third. “I’ve been racing a long time and I know Rodney has too,” said an enthusiastic Farr after the race. “I really had to slow down to go faster on those last couple of laps to hold him off.”
UP NEXT – THE KENDA FINAL FOUNDS AT ERX MOTOR PARK
The TORC Series will wrap up the season and crown year-end champions when the series returns to ERX Motor Park, September 22-24 in Elk River, Minnesota for rounds 4, 12 & 13. Tickets are available now at torcseries.com or at erxmotorpark.com. You can also tune in for live streaming by visiting torcseries.com, YouTube at /USATORC, or Facebook at /TORC.