CALGARY, AB -- Kirk Sutherland, yellow, challenges Jason Glass, red, from behind to tie him at the finish line in heat nine on day seven of Calgary Stampede's GMC Rangeland Derby, on July 14, 2016. Sutherland won the heat after Glass received a two second penalty. -- (Crystal Schick/Postmedia)
Kirk Sutherland turned for home and asked his horses for a little bit more.
They gave it to him – and then some.
Sutherland’s Ghostpine Environmental Services came storming down the stretch and crossed the finish line in a dead heat with Jason Glass, both with identical running times of 1:14.47.
Glass (Birchcliff Energy) had an outrider tip over a barrel, adding two seconds to his time, but it was still the most exciting heat of the week and it gave Sutherland a day-money run.
“I knew they had some run,” Sutherland said. “(On Wednesday), I had to pull early and just sit on them until the race was over.
“So I knew they had a kick, I just didn’t realize it was quite that large.”
Despite the penalty, Glass maintained his grip atop the overall standings but Sutherland moved up into second and is now .46 of a second behind Glass.
“It’s a great opportunity,” the 59-year-old said of his chances of winning the Richard Cosgrave Memorial Trophy and a new GMC truck as the aggregate champ.
“We have to have a good run off the No. 1 barrel (on Friday).
“It’ll be a different outfit going and they won third the other night. I have all the confidence in them.”
It was anything but a lucky Day No. 7 for Chad Harden.
The Mulhurst Bay driver was in the hunt for his second career Rangeland Derby crown (2009), but tipped over the top of his No. 1 barrel.
The five-second hit knocked Harden (ES Williams) out of the elite eight, tumbling 13 spots to 20th.
It was much the same story for Logan Gorst (Western Electrical Management).
He crunched the No. 2 can and skidded from 12th to 19th.
MITCH IS THE MAN
There are four Sutherlands competing at this year’s Rangeland Derby.
If you had to predict which two would be entrenched in the top eight, Mitch might not have received a pile of votes.
But the Grande Prairie driver has earned his way into contention this week.
“(Uncle) Kelly has dealt with (elite status) for years,” the younger Sutherland said.
“They either love him or they hate him but they still come to watch.”
Wagon fans have been watching Mitch make some textbook turns in his Manteo Group of Companies Ltd. rig this week and Thursday was no different as he turned and burned for the night’s third-fastest time.
“The horses are really working,” said the 38-year-old son of Kirk.
“They haven’t started like they usually do but I’m happy with the run.”
Sutherland sits 26th on the world charts but has caught a bit of lightning in a bottle at the Stampede, where he is third with one day of qualifying remaining.
“Of course, a guy wants to do it every year,” Sutherland said of qualifying for the big-money heats on the final weekend. “But we’ve been working on getting some serious horsepower for the past few years.
“Now it’s starting to come around and when everything clicks, it’s pretty easy.
“Once you get the magic solution, everything works and it’s quite rewarding when you get to this point.
Sutherland, who turned pro in 2011, said it took a couple of years to build the necessary depth needed to compete with the big boys.
“You’re always trying to get superstars every year,” Sutherland said. “But they don’t just appear out of nowhere.
“You have to build them and it can take two years to make a solid horse.”
ON THE AIR
Catch all the action on Sportsnet One, Shaw TV and on radio at AM700 The Light and 147 RURAL Radio on satellite (WPCA crew) and AM910 (CPCA crew).