First event of 2014 TORC championship in the books

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Writer’s Note: The following is a recap of this weekend’s season-opening event for TORC: The Off-Road Championship – the “Duel in the Desert” from Primm, Nevada. NBCSN will air the event on Friday, April 25 at 11 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know who won until then, we suggest you find another post to read here on MotorSportsTalk…

While gamblers hoped for a jackpot at the nearby casinos, the drivers of TORC: The Off-Road Championship entered the weekend at Primm Valley Off-Road Raceway hoping for a strong start to their 2014 seasons.

The “Duel in the Desert” began with an action-packed Round 1 on Saturday that saw Adrian Cenni win the PRO 4 race with a last-lap pass on Johnny Greaves, who still claimed second despite rolling his truck early in the race.

But a momentary mistake on Greaves’ part – in which he got loose in a corner and hit a hay bale – allowed Cenni to reel him in. On the final circuit, the two went side-by-side before Cenni made the pass stick in Turn 3 and then went on to win.

Meanwhile, Chad Hord’s wire-to-wire triumph in PRO 2 was overshadowed by the stunning barrel roll that Arie Luyendyk Jr. took after mid-air contact with another competitor.

Luckily, Arie Jr. was alert upon his transfer to a local hospital and earlier today, he was spotted back at the track to not only watch but also join the NBCSN team in the booth:

The 24-truck PRO Light class started the day, and that race was won from the pole by C.J. Greaves.

Saturday’s Podium Finishers

  • PRO 4: 1. Adrian Cenni; 2. Johnny Greaves; 3. Mark Kvamme
  • PRO 2: 1. Chad Hord; 2. Marty Hart; 3. Mike Jenkins
  • PRO Light: 1. C.J. Greaves; 2. Doug Mittag; 3. Jerett Brooks

However, in today’s Round 2 of the Duel, Johnny Greaves avenged his near-miss yesterday by beating Cenni to the checkered flag in PRO 4.

Greaves took the lead shortly after the drop of the green flag and held it up to the competition caution. When the green came back out at Lap 10, Greaves was able to maintain the point while second-place Mark Jenkins went over the wall to trigger a full-course yellow.

The incident elevated Cenni to second place, but Greaves quickly pulled away when the race went green again.

In PRO 2, Hord rocketed from fourth to the lead on the opening lap but lost the point shortly after the competition yellow to C.J. Greaves. C.J. then hung on the rest of the way for the victory, a nice follow-up to his third-place finish in PRO Light behind winner Jerett Brooks and runner-up Kyle Hart.

Sunday’s Podium Finishers

  • PRO 4: 1. Johnny Greaves; 2. Adrian Cenni; 3. Scott Douglas
  • PRO 2: 1. C.J. Greaves; 2. Chad Hord; 3. Patrick Clark
  • PRO Light: 1. Jerett Brooks; 2. Kyle Hart; 3. C.J. Greaves

TORC: The Off-Road Championship will return to action for the Showdown in Charlotte on April 25 and 26 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Helio Castroneves: ‘I have nothing to lose’ Sunday in bid for 4th Indy 500 win

All photos: IndyCar
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You might say Helio Castroneves comes into Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a “less is more” philosophy than he’s had in years past:

* No pressure

* No worrying about points

* No worrying about winning a championship

Take away all those things and the very popular Brazilian driver could be in the best position he’s ever been to achieve the biggest goal of his career:

Winning a fourth Indy 500, making him a member of motor racing’s most exclusive club, joining legendary drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to conquer the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times each.

Like his car number, Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times. He wants to change that number to four times in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Photo: IndyCar.

“For sure, I definitely don’t have much to lose in terms of points, championships, and things like that,” Castroneves told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week. “I don’t have to think that I don’t have a car to win, I’m not going to risk that much because there are still championship points (to earn if he was still racing full-time in the series).

“Not that I did that before, but if the situation occurs, people just need to know I have nothing to lose this time.”

Castroneves three prior triumphs in the 500 came in his first two years in the field – 2001 and 2002 – and again in 2009. In addition, he has finished twice in the last four editions of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing in 2014 and 2017.

Coming so close last year, losing to Takuma Sato by .201 of a second, is something Castroneves hasn’t forgotten about. To come so close to No. 4 has only made him more hungry to get it done on Sunday.

“Yeah, but if it were easy, we would likely have had more than four wins by now,” he said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past, the last four years we were really competitive, we were right there, especially in ’14 and ’17, we were right on it.

“Last year, I thought it was going to be the hardest 500 for me and look what happened: we were battling to the end for a victory,” Castroneves said. “It’s not just about trying hard, it’s about being there at the right place at the right time.

“And this place, Indianapolis, I’ve always said the track winds up choosing who is going to be the winner. Hopefully, with safety and luck, we’ll be part of it and be on the right side.”

Team owner Roger Penske decided after last season to put Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya as the chief drivers of Team Penske’s new two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship sports car series.

When the announcement was first made, many feared that Castroneves had run out of chances to get that elusive No. 4 at Indy.

But Penske sweetened the deal for Helio to go sports car racing by promising he’d field a car for him at Indy. And Penske has proven to be a man of his word, giving Castroneves everything he needs to finally win No. 4.

“I feel we’ve prepared as much as a team, we’re doing everything possible in relation to preparation,” Castroneves said. “The preparation we had in the previous year helps us tremendously to give us an opportunity fighting there for a win, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Castroneves has taken to the new style Indy car with aplomb. During the first week of practice leading up to last weekend’s qualifying, he was consistently one of the fastest drivers in the field.

The 43-year-old even topped the speed charts in the Fast Nine last Saturday before ending up eighth in the following day’s pole qualifying.

As a result, he’ll start Sunday’s race from the middle of Row 3, anchoring Team Penske’s four-man Top 8 starting lineup effort in the 500. When the green flag drops, to his left will be Danica Patrick and to his right will be four-time IndyCar champ and former 500 winner Scott Dixon.

And millions of others right behind him, so to speak.

“I feel the sense that everyone wants it to happen,” he said of winning No. 4. “We’re talking about being part of history here. The last guy to do it was Rick Mears in the ‘90s (1991).

“I mean, how cool would that be if I would be in the position and to see No. 4 in my era. I hear a lot of the fans, even those supporting different drivers, all saying ‘Man, I want to see you win No. 4.’ That just shows how special this place is.

“(The Indy 500) is part of a lot of people’s lives. I just would be very fortunate to hopefully to have this generation see someone do No. 4.”

While he’d rather not think about missing out on a fourth win at Indy for a ninth straight year, Castroneves is using reverse psychology somewhat.

He’s going into Sunday’s biggest race in the world fully believing he will finally win No. 4.

And if he does, forget the idea that he would never come back to race at Indy again.

“Not at all. Why? You’re so close to getting four, and then when you get four, you stop it? It doesn’t make sense.

“I think I still have at least four or five more years, there’s no question about it. As long as Roger (Penske) gives me the opportunity, I’m going to be going for it, for sure.”

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