The Helena, Montana driver led all 25 laps of the main event after starting on the pole, but it was not easy for the former Montana sprint car champion as he had Alberta’s Kelly Miller pressuring him for the lead almost the entire race. Kirkland, however, managed to hold him off as they made their way through traffic and picked up the big win aboard his No. 37 Two Dot Tech-powered Triple X.
The $1,500 victory was the third ASCS Frontier Region triumph for Kirkland and his first since June of last year at Gillette Thunder Speedway in Wyoming. Kirkland, a former winner of the Big Sky Super Nationals, last won at Gallatin Speedway in July 2014.
Meanwhile, David Hoiness clinched his first Brodix ASCS Frontier Region championship. Hoiness secured the title just by signing in at the pit gate, but still came to race. The Billings, Mont. driver got caught up in the feature’s lone accident with 14 laps completed when he got together with the crashing Mike Manwill and Robert DeHaan, causing significant damage to his top wing. DeHaan ended up going upside side to bring out the red flag. Hoiness went to the work area and came back out with a new top wing.
Hoiness, who won the ASCS Frontier Region feature at Gallatin Speedway in August, came back up through the field only to have his right rear tire go down on the final lap. He still managed to limp across the finish line tenth, keeping intact his impressive run of consistency that resulted in a championship. In 14 points paying races this season, Hoiness finished outside the Top 10 only twice all season aboard the family’s No. 27DD Wesmar-powered J&J.
Miller ran second to Kirkland for most of the race and tried a few times to make a move for the lead, but was unable make the pass. With traffic playing a factor, the leaders found themselves very close together in the latter half of the event. With two laps to go Miller’s right rear tire came apart and he limped off the race track, giving up the second position to Spearfish, South Dakota’s Clint Anderson, who would finish in the runner-up spot in his No. 9a Frisk-powered Maxim.
Getting close to the action at the front but not able to make a move at the end, Bryan Brown of East Helena, Mont. still came from the tenth starting position to finish third aboard the Brown Racing No. 38b Wesmar-powered Eagle. This backed up Brown’s podium finish at Gallatin Speedway in August.
J.J. Hickle came from Quilcene, Washington to pilot the Great Falls, Mont.-based No 23n Ostrich-powered Rocket for Peterson Racing. A mechanical problem kept Hickle out of his heat race, forcing him to start 19th in the feature. Hickle had a remarkable start and was in the Top 10 in just a handful of laps and was running eighth at the time of the red flag. With Rich Martin dropping out with a mechanical problem and Hoiness going to the back of the field, Hickle restarted sixth. Despite there only being the one stoppage to racing, Hickle managed to finish fourth and earned hard charger honors.
The 12th-starting Jeremy McCune of Shepherd, Mont. finished fifth aboard his own No. 0J Wesmar-powered J&J, securing sixth place in the points despite missing a few events while recovering from injuries suffered in May.
Billings driver Mindy McCord secured third place in the points for her impressive rookie sprint car campaign after finishing sixth in the feature. Roger Cummings, Shad Petersen, Damon McCune and Hoiness rounded out the Top 10. Damon McCune secured fifth place in the ASCS Frontier Region points standings.
Martin’s dropping out came when he lost oil pressure in his car while he was running in the Top 5. Having already been assured of second place in the points standings, the Cheyenne, Wyoming driver decided to not risk potentially further damaging his motor and left the track.
Heat races earlier in the evening were won by Anderson, Miller and McCord. Miller earned the top passing points score when he won his heat race from the sixth starting position.
While points racing is done and a championship has been won, the ASCS Frontier Region is not done racing in 2017 quite yet. The event will be non points for the tour, but the series will take part in the annual Dan Laber Memorial at Billings Motorsports Park on Friday and Saturday, September 15th and 16th with the NSA Series. Both nights will pay $2,000 to win.
More information on the Brodix Frontier Region of the American Sprint Car Series, Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour presented by MAVTV Motorsports Network and other ASCS regional tours, including schedules and results, can be found online at ascsracing.com. You can also find the series on Facebook.