Tucker Hibbert set off the fireworks in South Dakota’s Black Hills again, completing an exciting weekend sweep at the U.S. Air Force Deadwood National on the Amsoil Championship Snocross series.
After coming back from a rugged start on Friday night and winning by fractions of a second, Hibbert followed for the first half of the Saturday’s race again. But while early race leader Jake Scott was having his best race ever on the national circuit, Hibbert was working through traffic and lurking. He eventually moved to the lead spot and left no doubt about who this race belonged to.
The Pro Open final was the thrilling conclusion to an awesome Pro program Saturday night that included a come-from-behind victory by Ski-Doo racer Elias Ishoel from Norway in Pro Lite and a fascinating recovery from a headlight-checking, rodeo-riding near crash by Jacob Yurk in Sport (click here to see it, if you’re on Facebook).
Path To The Final
With several notable racers nursing injuries – most recently Petter Narsa, who took a ski to the back on Friday night – only 16 Pro Open sleds tried to qualify for the 15-sled final Saturday at Deadwood. Two rounds of qualifying heats following by a last chance qualifier resulted in one race – Zach Pattyn – being sent to his trailer while all of the other competitors advanced to the final.
Still, there were season points on the line, so qualifying heats were still highly contested, including a dramatic pass at the checkered flag by Tucker Hibbert over Kyle Pallin in a second-round heat.
For the final, the front row, in order of points earned in qualifying races, featured Tucker Hibbert on the No. 68 Arctic Cat, Lincoln Lemieux on the No. 13 Ski-Doo, Tim Tremblay on the No. 11 Ski-Doo, Logan Christian on the No. 43 Arctic Cat, Trevor Leighton on the No. 3 Polaris, Adam Renheim on the No. 311 Ski-Doo, Jake Scott on the No. 42 Arctic Cat, Kyle Pallin on the No. 324 Polaris, David Joanis on the No. 115 Arctic Cat and LCQ winner Corin Todd on the No. 36 Polaris.
The back row featured the other racers who advanced from the LCQ in this order: John Stenberg on the No. 259 Ski-Doo, Corey Watkinson on the No. 173 Arctic Cat, Ross Martin on the No. 837 Polaris, Andrew Carlson on the No. 151 Polaris, Ryan Springer on the No. 541 Polaris.
Go On Green
With the inverted starting order rule that the host ISOC circuit instituted for the 2015-16 race season, No. 9 qualifier Joanis got the first pick for where he wanted to start in the final, and he wisely chose the far inside position. When the starting light flashed green, he used it to his advantage and launched out into the lead – collecting the Stud Boy Holeshot award in the process.
Joanis immediately had company, however, as Scott – racing his first year on an Arctic Cat after a couple of years racing for Polaris on the national circuit – nearly matched Joanis launch and immediately engaged in a challenge for the lead spot.
In the pack, there was carnage – the Deadwood track was narrow, short and mushy, and that scrambled the start. At the back of the pack, the sleds of Watkinson and Springer ended up upside down and locked together, while Hibbert was pushed off the outside of the track and had to pull back into contention toward the back third of the field. He would not stay there long, however.
Scott quickly moved to the top spot and started to open a lead while Joanis was being pressured by Renheim for second. Behind him were Todd and Leighton, with Hibbert quickly recovering and locking onto sixth place by lap two, followed by Christian and Lemieux.
Once Renheim worked past Joanis, he quickly closed on Scott. For a lap or two, it would look like Renheim was ready to make a pass for the lead, as the Swede tried different lines and looked for the right path. But then the following lap he’d mis-time a jump or land in a hole and Scott would open up his lead again.
At about the halfway point of the 22-lap race, Hibbert’s move toward the front became more evident, as he quickly caught up to Renheim and stole second. Scott held a 2-second lead over Hibbert for awhile and was performing admirably, but Hibbert isn’t the winningest driver in snocross history by luck or chance – he does it all with skill, determination, preparation and excellent equipment.
All of that was on display Saturday, as Hibbert patiently looked for the right line then attacked Scott on about lap 16. While Scott came out of a turn at a moderate pace, Hibbert railed around an outside line and carried more speed onto the back stretch. Though Scott tried valiantly to stage a counter attack the next lap, Hibbert was just too good and immediately started opening a lead he would not give up.
Renheim made a late charge past Scott for second, but Scott withstood even later charges by Lemieux and Todd to hold onto the final podium position.
First to the checkered flag was Hibbert, 4.2 seconds ahead of Renheim, then Scott another 1.7 seconds behind, followed by Lemieux and Todd rounding out the top five. Christian grabbed sixth ahead of Joanis, with Pallin, Tremblay and a still-recovering-from-injury Martin rounding out the top 10.
The bottom five were Leighton, Carlson, Watkinson, Springer and Stenberg, who only completely 10- laps before pulling off.
Words On The Podium
After the final, Hibbert said, “It was a tough start for me for sure, I gave it everything I could until I went off the track.” He called the course “brutal” and “challenging for sure,” noting that warm weather was causing conditions to change nearly every lap, and that caused drivers to keep switching lines in favor of a preferred path.
Renheim moved up to third place in the season points race with his impressive performance and second-place finish. He made light of the fact that it took him awhile to get used to Deadwood’s small and tight track.
“It’s too bad it took a day, but I’m happy that we were here today in second,” Renheim said.
For Scott, it was his best-ever finish on the national snocross scene – he had won qualifying races and led bits and pieces of finals in the past, but the Port Washington, New York, native showed the way for about half of this final and brought it home with his first podium finish.
“Every time I get out front I always make a mistake and screw it up,” Scott said with a broad smile, “I was yelling at myself not to screw it up.”
Next up for the vast majority of Pro Open racers is a date with the ESPN X Games Aspen event in Colorado. The ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series starts back up in two weeks – February 5-6 in Salamanca, New York.
FRIDAY NIGHT RACING:
BELOW is the press release from the ISOC AMS circuit on Friday night’s racing in South Dakota.
DAYS OF 76 SPORTS COMPLEX- DEADWOOD, SD (January 22, 2016) – The historic town of Deadwood hosts Rounds 7 & 8 of the AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series Presenented by Four Seasons. Nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the streets were once filled wild west legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Deadwood is now a tourist destination for many to enjoy the sights, entertainment and gambling Casinos. While the gunslingers carrying their six shooters and outlaws of the west have long past, a new outlaw is in town ready to lay down the law as the battle for points continues for the young guns of snocross.
Heading up the points in the Pro Lite division, Montana Jess(765) hopes to keep the momentum moving forward and extend his lead over the field while Elias Ishoel(200) looks to stake his claim on top of the box with sights on making up lost points and find his way up ranks.
When it comes to the heavy hitters, the king of the snocross outlaws, Tucker Hibbert(68) is a force that proves time and again that he is here to win and after some very bad luck in Round 6 at Canterbury Park, Kody Kamm(53) is now out for the season after a shoulder injury giving Hibbert some more breathing room in the points chase.
Some big action in the Pro Lite qualifying rounds with Tyler Adams(705) taking the checkers for the win in Round 1 Heat 1.
Montana Jess(765) had a fourth and six place finishes putting him in the LCQ, and would transfer to the main with a win. Elias Ishoel(200) the hot shoe from Norway hits his mark taking the win in both qualifying rounds giving him the top qualifer for Round 7.
With the young guns in Pro Lite division lined up for the green flag, the adrenaline is pumping, the heart is pounding and out of the shoot first it is Daniel Benham(221) who takes the Stud Boy Holeshot, but it is short lived as Maxime Taillefer(144) makes quick work in the Polaris Corner to take over the lead. Down the Air Force Flyaway section they go, followed by Daniel Benham(221) and Jake Angove(177) going bar-to-bar toward the AMSOIL Finish Line Jump, but it is the 200 sled of Elias Ishoel that makes a hard charge to pass both Benham and Angove take the second spot.
Maxime Taillefer(144) is charging fast and furious lap-after-lap to hold off Elias Ishoel(200), but the seventeen year old from Norway is dialed in, sights are set and on lap six makes the big pass to move into first. Current points leader Montana Jess(765) who started in the back row, has quickly worked his way to the fourth position, but has some ground to make up if he wants to claim his spot on the podium.
As the laps wind down, Ishoel stretchs his lead out and giving Maxime Taillefer(144) no chance to catch him before the checkers fly high across the AMSOIL Finish Line Jump. After a flawless race, Ishoel takes the win with Maxime Taillefer(144) and Daniel Benham(221) rounding up the top three while Montana Jess(765) keeps the points lead after a fourth place finish.
PRO LITE FINAL RESULTS –
1. Elias Ishoel
2. Maxime Taillefer
3. Daniel Benham
4. Montana Jess
5. Jake Angove
6. Kevin Wallenstein
7. Cole Cottew
8. James Johnstad
9. Brady Love
10. Tyler Adams
11. Michael George
12. Travis Muller
13. Chase Rosemeyer
14. Jacob Blanshan
15. Korbyn Anderson
Place your bets, throw down your cards, give it all you got because the big shooters are on the line. Tight racing conditions and wet sloppy snow are the name of the game for the qualifying rounds of the Pro Open division. Tucker Hibbert(68) makes quick work in both rounds checkng out from the field and snags the top qualifying position. Logan Christian(43) has a great run with a first and third place finish while Ross Martin(837) returns to the line after being forced to take off a couple of races due to an ankle injury looks strong and makes it into the final. Hentges Racing rider Petter Narsa(54) takes a ski to the back, crashes off the track and is out for the night.
It is a stacked front row with the top ten qualifiers helmets down, focused on the starter to give the go, ready to hammer down the throttle for the Stud Boy Holeshot. Out of the shoot it is the 36 sled of Corin Todd with the holeshot and out to big quick lead over the AMSOIL Finish Line Jump. Ross “The Boss” Martin gets a great start and settles into second followed the big guy from Canada, Tim Tremblay(11).
Hibbert gets pinched hard on the start and settles into the fifth spot as he begins to pick off the riders in pursuit of Todd. Hibbert makes a big pass by Tremblay through the Polaris Corner and like a bullet from a gun, Hibbert takes down Ross Martin(837) on lap nine for the second spot. Corin Todd(36) is still out front with almost a two second lead, but Hibbert continues to trim the lead with almost a second faster lap times. As they approach the lap traffic, Todd makes clean passes and moves nicely through the field. With laps winding down, Hibbert navigates through the lapped traffic and makes the pass on lap seventeen with a hard outside charge around the FXR Turn over the big fly away jump for the lead.
T-Train puts together a flawless race and goes on the for another win to extend the points lead, Ross Martin(837) also riding a great race was holding onto the third sport, however Tim Tremblay(11) and David JoanisDavid Joanis(115) both making a hard charge through the Air Force Flyaway section to challenge Martin for the final spot on the box. Through lapped traffic, Tim Tremblay(11) makes a clean inside pass on Martin and into third. One, two, three it is Hibbert, Todd and Tremblay who have the smoking guns and stake their claim on night one of the U.S. Air Force Deadwood Snocross presented by Four Seasons for the top finishers of Round 7.
PRO OPEN RESULTS –
1. Tucker Hibbert
2. Corin Todd
3. Tim Tremblay
4. David Joanis
5. Ross Martin
6. Adam Renheim
7. Logan Christian
8. John Stenberg
9. Kyle Pallin
10. Lincoln Lemieux
11. Corey Watkinson
12. Jake Scott
13. Andrew Carlson
14. Ryan Springer
15. Trevor Leighton