PORT HARDY — A year ago, local driver Justin Reusch almost overtook the the season points leader with a hard-charging day of stock car racing at Tri-Port Speedway.
This year, he never got the chance.
Glen Day, another Port Hardy driver, claimed the 2011 track championship Sunday when sporadic rainfall forced cancellation of the scheduled season finale due to slick, unsafe track conditions.
Day, who trailed Reusch for much of the season before edging into the lead in the next-to-last event, finished with 739 points to 729 for Reusch. It was the second straight season Reusch was relegated to a close runnerup finish, after he placed just behind Daniel Hovey and just in front of Day in a close, three-way battle in 2010.
“Ten points? Holy cow,” said fellow driver Paul Weeks. “That’s one flat tire.”
“One flat tire, or one broken axle,” said Reusch, who was plagued by repeated axle failures in the second half of the season. “I just had one too many broken axles.”
Broken car issues also prevented a repeat by Hovey, a three-time track champion who placed third with 593 points. Second-year racer Brock Shore continued his improvement on the clay oval, placing fourth with 415 points.
Because nearly all the drivers were forced to miss one or more events, or suffered catastrophic vehicle failures during the season, the Tri-Port Motor Sports Club allowed each driver to eliminate their two worst showings from points consideration.
That did nothing to chip into the lead of Day, who had the most consistent showing throughout the campaign. He only real problem came when he was sidelined by a punctured radiator during the club’s signature Dirt Bowl Championhip, which was won by Shore.
After racing was cancelled Sunday, the drivers gathered in the mud of the pits to discuss their season wind-up event and future plans.
One of those plans is a track play day for the drivers this fall, with free admission for all fans who want to come out. The event, dependent on weather, may be held on short notice and Weeks said residents should watch for a gathering of cars at the mall and look for the race-day signs.
“We oughtta just have another points race,” Hovey ventured.
“No, we’re not,” club organizer Theresa Lee said. “The points races are finished.”
At that, Day threw both hands in the air with a whoop, knowing nobody was going to be charging up from behind to take his title.
Sunday’s championship presentation was as low-key as it gets. The drivers were informed of the point totals during that gathering and congratulated Day on his win. The trophy was not on hand for an official presentation, but that turned out to be a non-issue.
“I’ve already got the trophy,” Day said with a large grin. “Daniel gave it to me.”
Hovey, Day’s racing partner, shrugged sheepishly.
“I just grabbed it when I left the house,” he said. “When I saw Glen, I said, ‘Here, you take it.'”