Chad Harden wins chuckwagons despite distraction of injury-free mishap

Crystal Schick/ Postmedia CALGARY, AB -- Chad Harden pulls ahead of the other chucks for the win in heat four on day two of Calgary Stampede's GMC Rangeland Derby, on July 10, 2016. -- (Crystal Schick/Postmedia)

 

SCOTT FISHER
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Published on: July 10, 2016 | Last Updated: July 10, 2016 10:31 PM MDT

Chad Harden was more concerned about the health of his friend than the time on the clock.

The Mulhurst Bay chuckwagon driver came off the No. 2 barrel and grabbed the front end after Rick Fraser was ejected out of his wagon and onto the track in a scary mishap.

“I saw that he was in a little trouble coming to the bottom,” said Harden, who posted the fastest time of the night with a 1:12.90.

“Then I saw the wagon going over and I thought, ‘I hope everyone is OK.’

“(After the race), I saw him in the backstretch. He was fine, the outriders were good and not one horse had a nick on it. That’s amazing.”

Fraser’s lead team crunched the bottom barrel before the veteran Grande Prairie driver turned to get onto the track but his Maverick’s Chuckwagon Team wagon flipped, ejecting him onto the track.

The three other wagons and the eight outriders went around Fraser, who hopped up and began running down the track after his outfit that continued to pull the capsized rig.

The wounded wagon lost a couple of wheels halfway down the backstretch and eventually came to a stop, thanks to the outriders, in the third turn.

Fraser was saddled with a no-time, effectively ending his Calgary Stampede hopes.

Harden (Kubota Dealers of Alberta) went the other way, shooting up eight spots to eighth in the aggregate standings.

“That’s the same outfit that would have set a track record in Medicine Hat if I hadn’t hit a barrel,” the 2009 Rangeland Derby champion said. “So they’re working well.”

AROUND THE BARRELS

Jason Glass pulled double duty on Sunday, driving his own Birchcliff Energy rig (1:14.17) as well as cousin Colt Cosgrave’s High River Autoplex & RV outfit (1:13.27). Cosgrave sat out with a bad back … Gary Gorst continues to lead the overall standings, followed closely by defending champ Kurt Bensmiller.

DRIVING IN CIRCLES

Chance Bensmiller drives an oval-shaped pattern year-round.

He spends the summer months racing his chuckwagon the CPCA circuit and then pilots the Zamboni at the Dewberry arena.

There’s little doubt which one is more exciting.

“But at least with the Zamboni, I can drive on the inside,” Bensmiller said.

The 30-year-old shares the rink-rat duties with his older brother, two-time defending Rangeland Derby champion Kurt.

“Kurt’s had the contract for about six years now,” he said. “The last couple years he’s been gracious enough to win the Calgary Stampede so he hasn’t been around as much in the winter.

“But it’s a good gig. I coach three different hockey teams.

“We start (with the wagons) in March when the arena ends. By the time we finish wagon season in the fall, the arena starts up again so it couldn’t be any more perfect.”

Bensmiller is enjoying his finest season since turning pro in 2003, sitting third in the Canadian standings.

That’s the payoff for a strong spring training with Kurt and brother-in-law Vern Nolin.

“Kurt started with 35 (horses), I had 27 and Vern was pretty close to me,” the younger Bensmiller said.

“Kurt bought 17 (during the off-season). So throughout the winter, we’d have a couple of beers and talk about wagon racing like we always do and I’d pick up a couple from him.”

Bensmiller (Western RV/Country 105) ran a 1:13.31 on Sunday, making use of the No. 1 barrel.

“I’ve been running clean the first few nights,” Bensmiller said. “We’re not setting the world on fire or anything.

“I got the trip four-wide (on Saturday). You can’t make money four-wide.

“But in my mind, I have one of the nicest outfits off of (barrel) one and two. So now we’ll get to see what they can do.”

ON THE AIR

Catch all the action on Sportsnet West, Shaw TV and on radio at AM700 The Light and 147 RURAL Radio on satellite (WPCA crew) and AM910 (CPCA crew).

sfisher@postmedia.com

Twitter:@ScottFisherPM