Roxy Wright did it again.
The 66-year-old dog driver from Fairbanks solidified her status as the season's best sprint musher Sunday by winning the Open North American Championship in Fairbanks.
The victory gives Wright, who is racing again after an absence of more than 20 years, a sweep of the sport's two major championships – something she last did in 1993. Last month, she made a triumphant return to Anchorage's Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship to collect her fourth title there.
"It's been like a fairytale, winning the Rendezvous and then North American again," Wright told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "When I retired in 1996, I never intended to come back and run. I never thought I'd be back out here
racing and winning again. It's a great honor and privilege to get to come back."
Wright picked up her fourth North American championship by edging four-time champion Buddy Streeper of Fort Nelson, British Columbia. She won the title by 24.1 seconds – a margin forged over three days and 70.1 miles of racing on hard, fast trails.
At Fur Rondy, Wright beat Streeper by about two minutes after three days and 75 miles of racing.
Things were much closer in Fairbanks, where Wright won Friday's 20.5-mile heat and Streeper won Saturday's 20.8-mile heat.
The two were separated by about 18 seconds going into Sunday's final run of 28.8 miles. Wright clinched the crown with a run of 94 minutes, 7.6 seconds, clipping Streeper by 5.9 seconds.
"I was really focused on what Buddy's time was," Wright told the News-Miner.
"(Saturday) he was up to 54 seconds ahead of me, and I gained 38 of that back. So I knew my team was strong. It felt good today, when he wasn't up on me by a minute out there. Sometimes he gained a little on me and I gained a little on him, but crossing the finish line it was a close, good one."
Streeper's wife, Lina, delivered the day's third-fastest time (95:17.4) to vault from seventh place to third place overall.
Wright, who stepped away from racing not long after sweeping Rondy and the North Ameican 24 years ago, returned to racing last year with a second-place finish at the Open North American.
She is training and driving dogs from the kennel of former Fur Rondy and North American champion Arleigh Reynolds of Fairbanks, who pulled off sweeps of the Rondy and North American in 2013 and 2014 before retiring from competition.
Final times (in minutes)
1) Roxy Wright, Fairbanks, 223:38.5; 2) Buddy Streeper, Fort Nelson, British Columbia, 224:02.6; 3) Lina Streeper, Fort Nelson, British Columbia, 230:06.3; 4) James Wheeler, Clam Gulch, 231:41.7; 5) Amy Dunlap, Salcha, 232:01.3; 6) Emilie Entrikin, Fairbanks, 232:57.3; 7) Ken Chezik, Fife Lake, Michigan, 233:56.8; 8) Marvin Kokrine, North Pole, 237:35.7; 9) Don Cousins, Crooked Creek, Alberta, 241:14.9; 10) Mark Hartum, Edmonton, Alberta, 244:37.0; 11) George Attla III, North Pole, 244:49.7; 12) Andria Bond, Salcha, 244:57.8; 13) John Erhart, Tanana, 245:12.3; 14) Evan Hahn, Tanana, 247:46.6; 15) Michael Tetzner, Germany, 248:29.3; 16) Eddie Dayton, Big Lake, 254:38.3; 17) Dave Turner, Fairbanks, 256:51.2; 18) Luke Sampson, Noorvik, 257:21.2.