02/17/2015 08:32 EST | Updated 04/19/2015 05:59 EDT

Yukon Quest: Sass crowned 2015 champion after thrilling final sprint

After eight failed attempts at the title, Brent Sass is finally a Yukon Quest champion.

The resident of Eureka, Alaska, and his team of 12 dogs crossed the finish line of the 1,600-kilometre race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks Alaska at 10:52 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Monday night, more than an hour ahead of second-place finisher Allen Moore.

"It's unreal," said Sass in a media release following the finish. "I'm real proud of those 12 dogs."

Last year, Sass was neck-and-neck with eventual winner Moore for much of the race before suffering a head injury just before the final checkpoint that forced him to be airlifted to Whitehorse for medical attention.

This year, there were no such mishaps, despite a long nap on the course that evaporated what was at one point a 10-hour lead.

"It works! Fall asleep on the trail for 10 hours and you can come in first!" Sass joked after the race.

After Sass' large pre-race lead disappeared, Moore caught and passed Sass at the second-to-last checkpoint, 101 Mile. Sass tightened the gap, though, and the two were just two minutes apart at the final checkpoint, Moore's hometown of Two Rivers, Alaska, just 72 kilometres from the finish line, setting up a dramatic sprint to the finish.

"I thought my team was going to be that team again," said Moore, who was a two-time defending Quest champion.

Sass' official winning time for the race is nine days, 12 hours, and 49 minutes. For his win, he'll take home just over $24,000, as well as four ounces of gold for being the first musher to reach Dawson City, Yukon, and then go on to finish the race.

Sass and Moore are the only two racers so far to come across the finish line in Fairbanks. Ed Hopkins, of Tagish, Yukon, is sitting in third place, having reached Two Rivers Tuesday morning at 1:51 a.m. Alaska Standard Time. Vancouver, British Columbia's Damon Alexander Tedford is sitting in fifth place, holding his standing as the race's top rookie participant.