The modified track championship title at Grays Harbor Speedway continues to elude Port Hardy race car driver Lawrence O'Connor. The 53-year-old did wrap up the 2012 season with a victory in the Legends Shootout during the IMCA Duel in the Desert earlier this month at Las Vegas Speedway in Nevada.
The four-day event drew 253 of the top Modified-class racers in North America, who were whittled down in qualifying heats to a feature main field of the top 28. O'Connor fell three spots short of that feature race, but was selected to compete in the Legends Shootout for veteran racers 50 years of age and older.
Starting 12th in the 20-car field, O'Connor took a high line at the track's outer cushion to shoot into the lead in the first few laps, then stayed in front and cruised to the win in the 15-lap event.
"It was a nice end to the season," said O'Connor. "Out of our last four races we won three of them and were half a car-length from winning the other."
The "other" race was the season-ending modified championship race Oct. 6 at Grays Harbor, O'Connor's home track in Elma, Wash., where he is affectionately known as "Sir Lawrence". After winning the previous two feature mains there Sept. 22 and Sept. 29 against rivals Scott Miller of Shelton, Wash., and Craig Moore of Seabeck, Wash., O'Connor was leading on the white flag lap before being nipped at the end by Miller in the season finale.
"That's gotta be the third or fourth time I've led on the last lap in that race and didn't win it," said O'Connor.
The veteran driver, who began his career more than 30 years ago as a sprint motorcycle racer, finished with three feature main victories for the season at Grays Harbor. It was a particularly strong late-season push after his Harris Motorsports racer was virtually totalled in an early-season crash that saw him taken away in an ambulance.
"It was a nice end to the season," he repeated. "Down the stretch we've been in position to win every race we've been in."