April 26, 2014 — official release — Adam Fenwick photo — CONCORD, N.C. – True race fans know for the best action, go to the local short track.
Friday night, that held true for TORC: The Off-Road Championship Presented by AMSOIL as they kicked off the first night of the Husqvarna Showdown in Charlotte at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All three PRO classes featured physical side-by-side, rubbin’-is-racin’ action one would expect in NASCAR country.
While Johnny Greaves took the PRO 4 victory and sole possession of the points lead, the win didn’t come easy. His son, CJ Greaves, earned his second PRO 2 win of the season as Arie Luyendyk Jr. found his way to his first-ever class podium with a third-place finish. The highlight comes mere weeks after a vicious wreck in Primm, Nev., that broke his clavicle. In PRO Light, the Dynamic Duo of Doug Mittag and Jerett Brooks continued their hot streak as Mittag took his first win in the class with his teammate Brooks coming in second.
The night kicked off with a PRO Light class packed with a combination of veterans and young guns with a mixture of both finding the podium. Brad Lovell led for much of the race until an accident forced him out of the mix. CJ Greaves experienced the same misfortune early in the night as well. Mittag was able to take the lead at the midway point and never relinquished it, even after a Keegan Kincaid roll that left him on his lid and on fire on the white-flag lap bunched the field up.
After several laps under yellow, the race was made official with Mittag taking the win, Brooks earning second and Shawn Morris taking third.
PRO 2 saw redemption for Arie Jr. Greaves look an early lead that was never really in doubt, despite a constant challenge from Chad Hord, who looks to be Greaves’ main rival for the class title. Luyendyk fell to the back of the pack after hitting a barrier. The former Indy Lights star had to be taken off the track by the fire and safety crew, but was able to eventually fire up his truck and rejoin the field.
The second-generation star ran a hard race against Steve Barlow, in his CAT-sponsored ride, for third, with Barlow spinning out on the backstretch untouched, giving Luyendyk his first-ever PRO 2 podium. Greaves and Hord finished 1-2.
The race of the night, though, belonged to PRO 4 and the elder Greaves and Mark Jenkins. Johnny Greaves took an early and commanding lead, but after the competition yellow bunched up the field, Jenkins came on strong against the defending champ. After a couple laps of physical racing that saw Jenkins briefly take the lead when the two tangled coming to the start/finish line, Greaves, sans most of his livery, was able to earn the win. Mike Jenkins, lurking just outside the top three all night, gave his brother a physical challenge in the hairpin, taking runner-up honors.
After the race, the normally-reserved Greaves said he didn’t expect that kind of challenge from Mark Jenkins, comparing it to a former rivalry.
“It was surprising!” he said in his post-race interview. “I was just trying to hit my lines and be real smooth and CJ (who was spotting) kept telling me ‘He’s dive bombing real hard on the inside so just give him room.’
“He got in there a couple times, so then it was just game on. It reminded me of the old Ricky Johnson days, I had tires landing on the inside of my window…I just said ‘I need to get out of here!’
Gates at The Dirt Track open at 4 p.m. local time for the second day of the Husqvarna Showdown in Charlotte and the fourth round of the 2014 season with opening ceremonies scheduled for 7 p.m.