The T-Train kept rolling Sunday at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota, as Tucker Hibbert rolled over the competition in the Pro Open final.
Hibbert, 25, was unbeaten last year in ISOC racing action, and he started this season with the same dominating style, winning every time his Arctic Cat sleds took to the track. He now has 48 wins as a Pro on the national circuit.
Originally slated for the traditional Thanksgiving weekend but postponed due to unseasonably warm weather, weather today on the shores of Lake Superior was cold, making the racetrack hard and fast with thick snowdust that challenged the racers.
The early lead in the 22-lap Pro Open final was claimed by Robbie Malinoski, riding his first weekend as part of the Amsoil Schuering Speed Sports team in the Amsoil sponsored Pro Open class at the Amsoil Duluth National on the Amsoil Championship Snocross Series across the harbor from Amsoil’s headquarters in Superior, Wisconsin.
Pressure? Maybe, but the real pressure was being mounted by Hibbert. Within a couple of laps Hibbert moved into the lead and never looked back. He ended up winning the final by eight seconds, but it was never close, as he built a full straight-away lead within the first eight laps and then held it through lapped traffic.
Behind him, though, Polaris sleds were trading places and paint. Ross Martin, with whom Hibbert tangled briefly in a heat earlier in the day, was the next one to pressure Malinoski, passing him at the midrace. Next, Levi LaVallee mounted a challenge, moving past Malinoski in turn one with four laps to go.
LaVallee finished third, 13 seconds behind Hibbert, Malinoski was fourth, 17 seconds back and Swedish import Emil Ohman claimed fifth on a Ski-Doo. The rest of the top 10 were Steve Taylor (Doo), Cory Davis (Cat), Garth Kaufman (Cat), Matt Judnick (Pol) and Zach Pattyn (Cat).
On the podium, LaVallee was pleased with the performance of his team at its first race weekend. In the off-season, he started his own racing effort and a podium finish is definitely the way to start.
Martin, meanwhile, said he was happy with a podium finish in his first race since suffering a season-ending hip
injury at last year’s Winter X Games. The expression on his face, though, indicated that the former class champion really wanted Hibbert’s spot one step up on the podium.
Hibbert was cool as always when presented with the winner’s trophy. He thanked his team and crew and complimented his competition, but that story is getting old. His domination is stifling.
In the final, his main difficulty was sight lines and traffic created by lapping sleds.
“I didn’t know what was going on behind me, in front of me or beside me,” Hibbert said. He said he was glad it was over, and he planned to go home and prepare for Milwaukee. Competition: You’ve been warned.
The other final Sunday was in Semi-Pro Super Stock II, which featured Cody Thomsen from Nisswa, Minnesota, winning on an Arctic Cat on his first weekend in the Semi-Pro class. He was chased to the line by a rapidly closing Justin Broberg on a Ski-Doo. Mike Bauer finished third on a Polaris.