Bark River, MI (August 12-13, 2023) — Bark River International Raceway is known for its big fly-aways, fast straightaways, crafty turns, and fierce racing. The competitive nature of the track and a bunch of hungry racers, add up to an entertaining weekend of racing. The Greaves Duo have had some very exciting races in the past and collected a lot of wins at the 1.5 mile track. With the points battles and revelries at a fever pitch, the track was sure to live up to the name: Island Resort & Casino Off-Road Rumble in the U.P. At the end of the weekend, CJ landed on the podium four times: swept the weekend Pro Stock SXS in his Monster Energy/Toyo Tire Polaris RZR, took a very close 2nd place in Saturday’s Pro Turbo SXS, and took the Saturday Pro-4 class race by way of an amazing tire change by the G-Team crew. Johnny seemed to be back to his old self, driving the fenders off of his familiar number 22 Monster Energy Toyota.
Pro Stock SXS
Saturday: Heavy rains prevented qualifying and practice on Friday but the bad weather gave way to blue skies, 70 degree temperatures, and great racing conditions on Saturday. Points leader, CJ Greaves, got the pole position with Tyson Marquardt beside him for the rolling 2×2 start to kick-off the Pro Stock SXS class race. 20 cars headed down the hill from the starting line towards turn one. Marquardt didn’t make it through turn one as he and Jeb Bootle got together. CJ, Bootle, and Owen Van Eperen made up the top three. They pulled away from the rest of the field with CJ only feeling a little pressure midway through the first half of the race.
Following the mandatory caution at the halfway point, CJ stretched his lead and cruised to take his 7th win of the season for Monster Energy/Toyo Tire Polaris.
Sunday: CJ lined up on the front row again for Sunday’s Pro Stock SXS action. This time Owen Van Eperen was beside him as they led the 23 car field to the green flag. Although the two were just about side-by-side, CJ had the inside line and took the lead with the turn one holeshot. Bootle quickly got around Van Eperen and began to do battle with Greaves. The two went nose to tail and in a repeat of Saturday’s race, the top 3 pulled away from the field all the way up to the competition caution.
CJ was on rails the second half of the race while 2nd place back were dicing it up. He was leading by more than 6 seconds as he took the checkered flag for win number 8.
Pro Turbo SXS
Saturday: CJ Greaves fell short of the podiums at Dirt City and was ready to move his Pro Turbo program another step in the right direction. His familiarity with the track and having the “practice” run in with his stock SXS, his confidence was high. A smaller but faster field of 18 cars had a wild start. Rodney Van Eperen took the lead with Andrew Carlson on his bumper. CJ Greaves was in 3rd and showing patience as the front 2 mixed it up. Carlson grabbed the lead just before the competition caution.
On the restart, CJ was ready to make his move. While he was setting up Van Eperen, Carlson unexpectedly pulled out of the race at the exit of cemetery turn. The battle was on for CJ and Rodney. The two went side-by-side. CJ almost made the pass stick. They were so close at the finish line that their wheels touched as they went wheel-to-wheel across the finish line. CJ took a hard fought 2nd.
Sunday: CJ was on row 2 to start the Pro Turbo SXS class race on Sunday. With CJ in 4th, the top-5 pulled away and all the cars kept to a seemingly safe distance for a calm first half of the race. No passes were made on the restart of the 2nd half of the race but the pressure began to mount with every lap.
With one lap to go, Carlson did a 360 that gave the 2nd place running Van Eperen the opportunity to take the lead. CJ also passed Carlson to move up to the final podium spot when all of a sudden, he lost power. His machine came to a rolling stop just 30 feet from the finish line. The bad luck made him finish 10th. In spite of the late race problem, he is still in 2nd place in the points standings and has a 52 point lead over the next contender.
The next race is the famed Labor Day weekend Polaris World Championship Races at Crandon International Raceway.