Glass can’t catch another world title
Chuckwagons: Veteran Kirk Sutherland wins first championship
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 06:00 am
You can’t beat the best chuckwagon driver in the world with a bad draw and some costly mistakes.
High River’s Jason Glass wasn’t able to catch Kirk Sutherland who won his first world championship Saturday night at the Battle of the Rockies in Rocky Mountain House.
“Kirk is the guy that we had to outrun — there was no doubt he was the guy to beat this year,” Glass said. “I am sure that will be the case next year as well.”
Glass had gone into the Battle of the Rockies on Aug. 13 just behind Sutherland. He found himself in a bad spot right from the get-go as Sutherland had drawn inside barrels on Glass for the first three nights of racing.
“Kirk had the inside of me and I hit a barrel (on Friday) and that just about did it,” Glass said. “We had to run clean and fast and Kirk would have had to make a mistake for me to catch him. Kirk ran clean.”
Sutherland finished the year with 1, 314.5 points, while Kurt Bensmiller, the 2014 Calgary Stampede champion, slipped into second place at 1, 251.5. Glass dropped to third on the year at 1,239.5 after his runs in Rocky.
Sutherland had been on the heels of winning the title after finishing second last year to Rick Fraser. He was also runner-up to Glass in 2012.
“It makes all the effort worthwhile — I started focusing on this when I came back (to racing) 12 years ago,” the 57-year-old Sutherland said. “I just started with a couple of horses, worked my ass off and that is how long it took.”
Sutherland admitted having the inside draw on Glass helped him.
“I happened to get the barrel draw the last two shows (on Glass) which made it easier than it could have been,” Sutherland said.
Don’t let the barrel draw fool you though. When Sutherland had the four-barrel on Saturday, he turned in the fastest time of the night among the 36 drivers en route to winning the Battle of the Rockies. The veteran driver not only had plenty of horse sense this year, he also had the horses.
“I had two solid outfits and a good spare outfit,” Sutherland said.
“I didn’t have to dip into my son’s (Mitch) pen, but it was available.
“It’s a numbers game and you have to plan ahead — you have to figure out when you want to do some good running.”
High River’s Jordie Fike, 27, finished 10th in the world standings — the best finish of his young career.
“The horses were in extremely good shape and held up for me this year,” Fike said. “I am pretty happy with the new horses I got this year.”
But it wasn’t just horses, it was also the six-foot-seven man holding the reins.
“I am gaining more and more confidence all the time and learning from previous experiences,” Fike said. “I was a lot more consistent this year. I contribute that to a changing some of my training regimen this spring.
“The newer horses also brought some life into my outfits again.”
He has already set his site on next year.
“The top 10 is really nice, but you have got to keep your eye on number one,” Fike said.
Okotoks’ Mark Sutherland had a strong showing in the second half of the WPCA season to finish 15th overall. In mid-July, Sutherland was hovering in the mid 20s, dangerously close to not qualifying for the Calgary Stampede.
“I was in a position I certainly wasn’t used to having such a bad start to the summer,” Sutherland said. “I was happy with how the season ended up. I was able to introduce a lot of new horses and stay competitive.
“I wasn’t as high I as wanted to be, but all in all it was okay.”
He’s also proud of his uncle Kirk.
“He has been so competitive and has had the toughest barn for the last few years,” Sutherland said. “It was good to see him win.”
The new world champion also taught a guy who has won the title four times a thing or two.
“Kirk had the most horses and that is what I am going to change next year,” Glass said. “I am going to haul more horses next year, to make sure I don’t run out in the end.”
To see the full WPCA standings go to www.wpca.ca