By Andrew Kunas
BILLINGS, Mont. -Logan Forler’s decision to make a return visit to Montana turned out to be a good one, as the reigning ASCS Frontier Region sprint car champion won Saturday’s Big Sky 360 Nationals finale at Big Sky Speedway and picked up his second victory in as many nights.
It didn’t come so easily as his Friday victory did for the Boise, Idaho driver. After leading the entire feature and never being threatened that first night, Forler on Saturday had to make passes on the track to get the win in the Steve Forler No. 2L Fisher-powered Maxim.
Forler started outside the front row with former series champion Phil Dietz of Laurel, Montana to his inside. Dietz got the better start and as they entered Turn 1 slid up in front of Forler to prevent him from making an outside run, which slowed them both down enough that points leader Trever Kirkland of Helena, Montana took advantage and motored by both of them on the bottom, exiting Turn 2 with the lead.
While Kirkland led in front of them, Dietz held off Forler for a time until a restart at the midway point of the race. Forler got a run and challenged Dietz for the position, and the two traded sliders and crossovers for a couple of laps before Forler established himself in front of the five-time Montana sprint car champion. Kirkland, however, was carrying enough steam that Forler could not run him down as the laps ticked away. That changed when the caution flag came out with six laps remaining, putting Forler right on Kirkland’s rear nerf bar.
On what was the final restart of the race with six laps remaining, Forler took the opportunity and pounced, passing Kirkland for the lead in Turns 1 and 2. After getting out front, Forler checked out and motored away, winning by more than 3.4 seconds over Kirkland.
Forler had been racing 410 sprint cars all season on the West Coast, racing with the NARC King of the West series in California with the occasional run north to Oregon and Washington. By his own admission, there were struggles and a lot of learning. Friday’s and Saturday’s wins in 360 sprint car action were perhaps a confidence booster as they were Forler’s first victories this season. Though he’ll be returning to the West Coast, Forler was happy to return to the series where he won a championship last year and thanked the race teams, staff and fans for welcoming him back for the weekend.
Kirkland, meanwhile, finished runner-up for the third consecutive race aboard his No. 37 Shark-powered Triple X. While a second a win on the season has eluded them, Kirkland and team are still riding momentum now. Those three consecutive second place finishes followed a big crash and DNF that came at Big Sky Speedway in June, and each time Kirkland also padded his points lead over Coaldale, Alberta’s Kelly Miller. With Miller finishing sixth on Saturday, Kirkland increased his lead to 68 points.
After starting on the pole, Dietz finished third aboard his No. 72 Panella-powered Maxim, earning his fourth consecutive Top 5 finish. Tyler Driever of Meridian, Idaho also earned his fourth straight Top 5 finish after a run of bad luck to start the year, as last season’s series Rookie of the Year came from the tenth starting spot to finish fourth, earning the hard charger nod and picking up some extra cash that came from the fans for his efforts.
James Setters made a late race pass around Miller to finish fifth. Following Miller, Kory Wermling came back from a flat tire to finish seventh and maintain his third place position in the point standings. Damon McCune, Casey Tillman and Shad Petersen rounded out the Top 10.
Heat races earlier in the evening were won by Wermling and Willie Hernandez.
The ASCS Frontier Region next races on Friday, July 29th in the Summer Clash at Belgrade at Gallatin Speedway, before returning to Big Sky Speedway the next night, July 30th, for the Montana Summer Shootout. The series makes its annual trip south to Sweetwater Speedway in Rock Springs, Wyoming for the Wyoming Sprint Car Showdown on Friday and Saturday, August 12th and 13th.
More information on the Brodix Frontier Region of the American Sprint Car Series can be found online at www.ascsracing.com. Stagg Motor Sports, the promoting company of the ASCS Frontier Region, can be found at www.staggmotorsports.com.
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Brodix ASCS Frontier Region
Big Sky 360 Nationals – Night 2
Big Sky Speedway
July 16, 2022
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. 9k Kory Wermling, 2. 2L Logan Forler, 3. 37 Trever Kirkland, 4. 2n Shad Petersen, 5. 2m Abraham Hernandez, 6. 69r Damon McCune, 7. 17 Levi Dodge, 8. 28 Joe Perry, 9. 24m Ian Myers.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. 1m Willie Hernandez, 2. 72 Phil Dietz, 3. 0J Jeremy McCune, 4. 2 James Setters, 5. 33t Tyler Driever, 6. 2jr Kelly Miller, 7. 81 Casey Tillman, 8. 17j Tony Bruce Jr.
Feature (25 laps): 1. 2L Logan Forler, 2. 37 Trever Kirkland, 3. 72 Phil Dietz, 4. 33t Tyler Driever, 5. 2 James Setters, 6. 2jr Kelly Miller, 7. 9k Kory Wermling, 8. 69r Damon McCune, 9. 81 Casey Tillman, 10. 2n Shad Petersen, 11. 2m Abraham Hernandez, 12. 1m Willie Hernandez, 13. 0J Jeremy McCune, DNS – 17 Levi Dodge, 17j Tony Bruce Jr, 24m Ian Myers.
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Big Sky 360 Nationals – past winners
2020 – Seth Bergman
2021 – Tyler Driever
2022 – Logan Forler