Gabe Bunke made history again Saturday in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, winning the 46th annual Soo I-500 in dominating fashion and becoming the event’s second racer to win back-to-back-to-back victories on the tricky one-mile oval.
The Moorhead, Minnesota-based Polaris racer and driving partner Aaron Christensen led most of the event’s 500 laps, taking control early and putting a stranglehold on a star-studded field in the ultimate endurance race. Saturday’s race spanned 9 hours and 51 minutes on a track that got increasingly rough and treacherous as the day wore on.
The race was also twice delayed midway through the event due to power delivery problems in the area of the famed oval track, but there was no problem delivering the power to the track of the No. 74 Bunke sled when the race was green. The team fought off occasional challenges from race teams that looked strong for awhile, only to have several of those challenges end with mechanical problems for those competitors.
In the very end, Bunke and Christensen only had two things to worry about: Their gas gauge, and their Faust Racing teammates driving the No. 537 Bunke sled that had run in the top five all day, and came up to run on the same lap as the No. 74 Bunke sled when the race went under caution with 10 laps left. But when the race went green again, the sled driven by the team owner put a beating on its backup sled guided by Ryan Faust, stretching the lead by a second a lap and winning by 9.375 seconds. The top-two finishing order was the same as in 2013.
The Beard Racing #22 entry ran top five all day but faded just a little bit in the last 40-or-so laps to finish 2 laps down, but still gained an impressive third place finish. The top three were all on Polaris sleds. Over that same closing segment of the racing the Ski-Doo-based No. 4 Millennium Motorsports team led by fellow Moorhead, Minnesota, racer Ross Erdman and the No. 21 Arctic Cat powerhouse Cadarette Collision led by the legendary Troy DeWald of Michigan battled for fourth. The 21 grabbed the spot for awhile but had to pit late, allowing the No. 4 to grab fourth, with Cadarette’s crew fifth.
The rest of the top 10 can be seen in the attached image: a screen grab from the Race-Monitor web site right after the race wrapped up.