Andrew Faulkner could see the finish line.
And if the 19-year-old could just hold on for 30 more feet, he would accomplish something he hadn't in five years of competition in the East Coast Snocross Series - he would win a race.
But then, disaster struck.
Andrew Faulkner of Jamestown turned in quite a weekend at the East Coast Snocross Series finale in Malone, N.Y.
"I'd been leading the entire race," Faulkner recalled, "and on the last lap I was pushed off the track and crashed into the orange fencing (that lined the course). I led the whole way, but ended up getting last place.
"It was heartbreaking."
Especially for Faulkner, who in the past had been no stranger to racing success - whatever the style.
Born in Orlando, Andrew inherited his love of racing from his father, Rick, and prior to relocating back to Jamestown in 2002, the younger Faulkner had made winning a habit.
"I've raced motocross and won a state championship and I've raced BMX and won a state championship," Faulkner said. "I've pretty much raced everything and have always been pretty good at it."
Suddenly in a place where there was snow on the ground for the better part of four months a year, however, Faulkner had no choice but to adapt, and took up snocross after attending a race with his father.
Still, the success with which he had previously been so familiar remained elusive.
Until, that is, this past weekend.
Undaunted and as determined as ever to capture that first victory, Faulkner finally found the success for which he'd been searching during the East Coast Snocross Series' final race of the season.
Held in Malone, N.Y., which is located about an hour west of Plattsburgh, Faulkner - a member of the Throttle Shop Racing team which is sponsored by Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile and Z&M Agriculture and Turf - wearing No. 77 and riding his Polaris IDR600 factory race sled, crossed the finish line first in the Sport Super Stock event, finishing six laps in a speedy 3:23.438, over two seconds faster than his next closest competitor.
"I came back last weekend and won the race," Faulkner said happily. "I was really calm (after), and so was my dad, but everyone else was flipping out."
As it turned out, that was just the first bit of good news Faulkner was to receive on that blustery day.
"Because it was the last race of the year we had an awards banquet afterward," Faulkner said. "I finished in fourth place (in the point standings) for my class, which is really good, and then I was given the Hard Charger award."
Faulkner finished the year with 206 points, just 82 off winner Hunter Patenaude's tally of 288. The "HammerDown Hard Charger Award," meanwhile, is dedicated to the racer who is, as Faulkner put it, "the whole package" - someone who is not only a positive role model, but has also shown sportsmanship, determination, talent and improvement over the course of the season.
"That was a big deal," Faulkner said. "When they were announcing the winner I was standing there with my dad and told him who I thought would win. Then 30 seconds later they called my name, and I was completely shocked."
All in all a memorable day for Faulkner and one that has him re-energized for next season.
"In my opinion, snocross is the most physical (type of racing) out there, because the sled weighs almost 500 pounds and you've got to manhandle it for five to 10 minutes on tracks that are absolutely brutal," Faulkner said. "So (after 10 races this season) my body was sore and I was ready for it to be over.
"But now, coming off my first win and after (earning) that award, I'm definitely pumped for next year."