Much like the delay between a booming blast of thunder and the bright flash of lightning, Luke Tournier had no idea he was the World Professional Chuckwagon Association Dash for Cash winner in Dawson Creek.
“I don’t like to get ahead of myself, guys wanted to drive my outfit back (to the trailer) and I said no. Let’s make sure it’s official. So I drove back and we unharnessed the horses and I waited for them to come and get me. It’s easier to not get your hopes up too high,” said the now back-to-back Battle of the North Dash for Cash winner Sunday night.
'Lightning' Luke, as he’s known in the wagon world, finished a few seconds behind Chad Harden, but three seconds in penalties meant Tournier’s penalty-free heat 1:14.35 was the top time on Sunday.
Harden crossed the finish line in first from barrel number two, but penalties for starting ahead of the horn and an outrider knocking a barrel cost him the $10,000 prize. Aggregate winner Kirk Sutherland, who won the dash in 2014, finished just 85 one-hundredths of a second behind Tournier from barrel one. Coming from barrel four, Codey McCurrach knocked over a barrel and placed fourth.
“I didn’t know there were any penalties. I was just happy that… Chad was real fast out of the barrels and I was just happy he was fast enough to get Kirk (Sutherland) so I didn’t have to run three wide instead of two,” Tournier recalled.
“I thought I had lost the race because I was beat down the line but then my hired guy come running and says ‘We won, those other guys got penalties’. So that was good.”
It was the second straight win in Dawson Creek after a long streak of bad luck for Tournier in the Battle of the North, a reputation he’s glad to finally shed after the win Sunday.
“This one’s real nice because it’s kind of a big cheque you get so it makes it a little special. Notoriously I used to have a lot of trouble at this show so now lately it’s our show, so things have changed,” he said.
Tournier also noted the conditions and weather might have been the best the WPCA had all season, which he thought contributed to some of the best racing of the year.
“The weather was great and the track has been the best I’ve ever seen it as far as you could run two and three wide and make good races. The track was good for wagon racing and that’s what this is about,” he said.
With the final WPCA stop coming in Rocky Mountain House next weekend, it appears Tournier has all but locked his lead on the tour, with 1135 points, more than 100 above second place Gary Gorst.
“I don’t know if the win matters that much but the points that your gathering while you’re winning… we just gotta run clean at the next show and not get stupid. It’s for us to win it or lose it. Strange things can happen so I’m not going to talk yet,” Tournier added.