Mitsuing CPCA 2011 champion

Devin Mitsuing (left) edges Logan Gorst (right) and Gary Gorst (centre) at the line to win the 2011 CPCA Championship Sunday afternoon in Lloydminster. For his efforts, the 27-year-old Mitsuing received a brand new pickup truck.

By Mac Christie

Coming around the third turn at the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association Championship in Lloydminster on Sunday afternoon, Devin Mitsuing knew he had to let his horses run if he had any chance of winning.

Sitting back in third place, he saw the two Gorsts, Gary and Logan running in front of him.

“I knew I was going to have to make a move a little early just to run them down on the home stretch,” he said. “The horses wanted to run, and as soon as I let them go, I knew I had it.”

And run them down he did. Mitsuing edged Logan at the line with a time of 1:17.45.

Just like that, he was the new CPCA Champion.

Logan crossed the line with a time of 1:17.68. Veteran driver Brian Laboucane finished in third place with a time of 1:17.99, while Gary, the year end high-point champion, finished fourth as he knocked a barrel, garnering him a five-second penalty.

It wrapped up a tumultuous year for Mitsuing, who failed to qualify for the 2011 Calgary Stampede.

“I was a little disappointed not getting back to Calgary this year,” he said. “That was my goal, just to qualify. I never dreamed I’d be the champion driver.”

In fact, the Aug. 21 triumph in Lloydminster was his first-ever show win.

“I finished second four times this year, and I hated second,” he said. “To finish first is awesome.”

But he noted it was a lot of work.

“I don’t think we had any nights off,” he said. “It’s been a whirlwind. I’m very proud of everything we’ve done this summer.”

For his father Ray Mitsuing, himself a six-time CPCA champion, it was tough to watch the final.

“It was a bit nerve-racking for me,” he said with a laugh. “I was nervous for him.”

Still, Ray said he was confident Devin would win, because the family has such a deep barn of horses.

For his part Ray said he had a good season, but his main focus was getting Devin into the top four.

“I was trying to get him second (place), so he could get the number two barrel in the dash, but as it turned out, he missed it by half a point.”

Instead, Devin ran off of the third barrel, with Logan running from barrel one, Gary from two and Laboucane from four.

Logan noted he was surprised to run from the first barrel.

“I was honestly expecting to come off the two barrel and my dad kind of surprised me when he picked the two,” he said, “so it changed my game-plan a little bit.”

Mitsuing (red) claims his championship prize, Aug, 21 in Lloydminster

While Logan was disappointed with the loss, he said it was a good race.

“He had a good outfit and he came with a lot of run,” he said of Devin, “There’s nothing I can do about it, just tip my hat to him.”

Overall, he was pleased with his season, noting he didn’t think he’d do as well as he did.

“If you would have told me in the spring I would end up second in the CPCA I’d have shaken your hand,” he said.

But he’s still looking to improve.

“I’ve got one dash under my belt, hopefully the next one I can win it,” he said. “The next step is to win a CPCA title.”

Gary echoed his thoughts, saying while he would have liked to have done better in the final, he was pleased with his year, winning back-to-back point championships.

But he said the highlight of his year was seeing Logan finish in second place.

“For me to be number one and him to be number two, it’s never happened before for a father-son combination, so that’s one of the big highlights for me.”

Devin also had a family connection in his win – having his two brothers Dale and Darren as outriders.

“Having my brothers out there with me just makes it 100 times better,” he said. “We win and lose as a family, and today we’re winners.”

Going into next season Devin expects to have a bit of a target on his back as the defending champion, but he doesn’t plan to change how he races.

“I’m not going to have expectations of anything,” he said. “I’m just going to come out and run every race like it’s the first one.”

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