After uncharacteristically not winning a heat race in qualifying Friday night in Salamanca, New York, snocross sensation Tucker Hibbert left nothing to chance in the 14-lap final. He blazed off the line on his Monster Energy/Dodge Trucks Arctic Cat and led every minute of the race en route to his record 101st victory in professional snocross racing.
Hibbert, of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, opened up a multiple-second lead in the first couple of laps and then built that to more than 8 seconds by the race’s halfway point. The gap to second approached 10 seconds for awhile. Though the final margin of victory was back at 8.5 seconds over second place Ross Martin, Hibbert was never seriously challenged and rode away to an easy victory on a relatively long track. It was round 9 on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Series.
In the Pro Lite class, Ryan Springer is putting a string together, winning his second straight final in a highly competitive field on his Polaris.
Pro Open Final
The qualifying heats in the Pro Open class were a rough and tumble affair — so rough, in fact, that Hibbert was the No. 1 qualifier despite finishing second in each of his heat races; normally a 2-2 set of qualifiers will place a racer in third or fourth. With that top spot secured, Hibbert chose a starting position near the center of the grid.
The start of the race was delayed by select racers nudging into the starting zone before No. 3 qualifier Tim Tremblay committed the ultimate sin, lurching through the flashing red light on his No. 11 Ski-Doo and earning himself his own starting spot at the back of the field.
On green, Hibbert immediately nosed out front, but he had plenty of company, as the Arctic Cats of Logan Christian and David Joanis joined him at the front of the sleds’ first charge through the front-stretch whoop section. Also running toward the front was Kyle Pallin (Polaris), but he got crossed up and tossed hard off of his sled while the other 14 sleds advanced into the first turn.
Coming out of turn 1, Hibbert already started to put some distance between himself and the field. By the next turn, he already had several sled lengths on second place. Nobody would ever get close again, as the driver nicknamed “T-Train” railroaded the field and pulled away.
Behind him, Christian locked onto second while Ross Martin came through the field to grab third. Behind those three on lap 4 were the local favorite, rookie Corin Todd, and Ontario’s David Joanis, then came Tremblay, Adam Renheim, Justin Broberg, Cody Thomsen, Mike Bauer, Andy Lieders, Zach Pattyn, Johan Dahlgren, Pallin and Poirier.
Toward the halfway point, Martin was all over Christian’s snowflap, looking for the right line to make the pass. The opportunity came on lap eight, when Martin blazed past on the backstretch. Christian valiantly tried to answer, but eventually Martin got away and opened a slight gap. Behind them, Tremblay was working through traffic, eventually making it close to Christian before Christian got away from him.
Up front, it was all Hibbert. At the waving checkered flag, his black Arctic Cat blazed through the air while victory flames shot from the tower — victory No. 101 was his.
Eight seconds behind him was Martin, then came Christian 2.7 seconds after him. Tremblay finished another couple seconds back, with Todd holding on for a strong fifth. Renheim, Joanis, Broberg, Lieders and Thomsen rounded out the top 10.
After the race, Hibbert said that, after waiting a couple of weeks to notch his 100th Pro victory last weekend, the pressure was off slightly, “but there’s pressure to win every night.” He said he was glad to get the early lead so he could get through the front stretch bump section without trading paint without any competition.
Martin’s second place finish continued a resurgence for the veteran racer, who has now strung together six straight podium finishes after a slow start to the season. For Christian, it was his first podium of the year, and something he said he hopes to build upon.
The official ISOC press release will be added to this post as soon as it is received.
HERE’S THE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ISOC RACE CIRCUIT:
Tucker Hibbert reigns supreme in AMSOIL Championship Snocross @ New York’s Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel
Hibbert dominates the race from start to finish, recording his 101st career pro snocross victory; Ryan Springer survives a wild Pro Lite class finish
SALAMANCA, N.Y. (Feb. 6, 2015) – AMSOIL Championship Snocross, powered by Ram, hit the State of New York with the force of a blizzard on Friday for round nine of the world’s premier pro snocross racing series – the Seneca Allegany United States Air Force National at Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel. And as he did earlier in the season, Monster/Arctic Cat/Ram’s Tucker Hibbert dominated the Pro Open main event with a wire-to-wire 1st place finish, while in the support Pro Lite final Ryan Springer (Carlson Motorsports/Polaris) made it two wins in a row, surviving a wild finish where a mental mistake nearly cost him the win.
Hibbert would parlay a barely auspicious 2nd/2nd heat finishes into the No. 1 qualifying position, took a questionable gate pick – right in the very middle of the first row – and proceeded shut everybody up by yanking the Stud Boy Holeshot, tripling out after the finish line while saying ‘good-bye’ to the rest of the field and ‘hello’ to his 101st pro win.
“You want to be out front early in every race, but especially this one because the rhythm section was pretty gnarly and you didn’t want to be side by side with a bunch of guys going through there,” said Hibbert, who extended his Pro Open series point lead to 74 points over 2nd place Tim Tremblay (AMSOIL/Scheuring/Ski-Doo). “Pumped to be up here on the podium with my buddy Logan (Christian) and congrats to Ross (Martin).”
Hibbert’s move to the middle-of-the-pack gate pick gave him a buffer zone by lining up next to one of the massive finish line divider poles. This allowed Hibbert to flow more to the outside of his lane off the start, carry his speed through the corner and into the early lead. Hibbert then rocketed off a seemingly undoable triple jump just past the finish line and had nearly a two-second lead before the end of the first lap.
“Logan was doing that jump in qualifying, so I had to man-up and do it in the finals,” added Hibbert.
With Logan Christian (Christian Brothers/Arctic Cat) in 2nd place, Ross Martin (Judnick Motorsports/Polaris) made a charge up from his 5th place start, getting past David Joanis (Royal Distributing/Arctic Cat) into 3rd. Also running fast early, make that extremely fast, was former Pro Open champ Tremblay. The Canadian jumped the start and was relegated to the back row. But by lap four he was up to 5th place, and closing in on Christian and Martin.
Through six laps Hibbert’s lead was up to seven seconds on Christian. Martin would then catch Christian and the two would battle hard for two laps before Martin moved into 2nd on lap eight. Tremblay, who was one second back of Christian, would join the battle as well. But Christian stepped it up and held Tremblay off.
On the Cooper Tires final lap Hibbert set off the fire pots in 1st, followed a bit later by Martin in 2nd (podium finishes for Martin in every race since round four) and Christian holding off Tremblay for 3rd.
“It took a while to get up here. I’ve worked hard and so has my team,” said Christian of his first Pro Open podium finish this season. “I wish I could have got up hear earlier, but I’ll take it.”
Rounding out the Pro Open top five in Salamanca were Tremblay in 4th and New York local racer Corin Todd (Leighton Motorsports/Polaris) in 5th.
Salamanca Friday Pro Open Results
1 – Tucker Hibbert, Pelican Rapids, MN, Arctic Cat
2 – Ross Martin, Burlington, WI, Polaris
3 – Logan Christian, Fertile, MN, Arctic Cat
4 – Tim Tremblay, Ste Jeanne D’Arc, Quebec, Ski-Doo
5 – Corin Todd, Otego, NY, Polaris
6 – Adam Renheim, Sweden, Ski-Doo
7 – David Joanis, Canada, Arctic Cat
8 – Justin Broberg, Mukwonago, WI, Polaris
9 – Andrew Lieders, Colby, WI, Polaris
10 – Cody Thomsen, Nisswa, MN, Arctic Cat
Overall Pro Open Points (9 of 16 rounds)
1 – Tucker Hibbert, 381
2 – Tim Tremblay, 308
3 – Kyle Pallin, 297
4 – Ross Martin, 289
5 – Logan Christian, 282
Ryan Springer made it two AMSOIL Championship Snocross Pro Lite finals in a row, backing his win last weekend in Deadwood with another victory tonight in Salamanca.
But Springer’s dominant performance – enjoying a five-second lead on the white flag lap – was almost for not as a practically comical mental error nearly cost Springer the race!
“I came around, thought I saw the white flag, then saw the flagman on the finish line scrambling to grab another flag,” explained Springer of the wild finish. “My guys signaled to slow down, which I did – came to a complete stop and took off my goggles. Then everyone realized there was still a half lap to go and were yelling ‘Go! Go!’”
Fortunately for Springer his flawless nine laps leading into the final lap allowed him just enough room ahead of Travis Muller (Cottew Motorsports/Polaris) to win the half lap drag race to the finish line, goggles still draped over his arm as he took the checkers.
“Anytime you get out front, ahead of all the traffic and snow dust, it’s a big advantage,” added Springer.
Pulling the Stud Boy Holeshot was Muller, though Tyler Adams (Christian Brothers/Arctic Cat) made a serious bid for it – and paid the price by launching his sled off the track. Springer quickly grabbed the lead, which he’d never relinquish, with Muller in 2nd and Max Taillefer (Taillefer Motorsports/Ski-Doo) and Corey Watkinson (Watkinson Motorsports/Arctic Cat) shooting it out for 3rd.
By the third lap (of ten) Springer left no doubt who was the fastest Pro Lite rider on the night, clocking a 42.9 lap and separating from the rest of the field. And while Muller, Taillefer and Watkinson settled into their positions, James Johnstad (Judnick Motorsports/Polaris), who got off the starting line late, was ripping his way up to the front. Johnstad would catch Watkinson for 4th by lap seven, then passed Taillefer for 3rd – only to have Taillefer run into the back of his sled and take both racers out of podium contention.
Following the Johnstad and Taillefer get together opening lap eight Springer built his lead to four, then five seconds over Muller. Watkinson would finish strong to take the third and final podium spot, with Andrew Carlson (Carlson Motorsports/Polaris) and Pro Lite point leader Trevor Leighton (Leighton Motorsports/Polaris) rounding out the top five in 4th and 5th, respectively.
Salamanca Friday Pro Lite Results
1 – Ryan Springer, St. Francis, MN, Polaris
2 – Travis Muller, Windom, MN, Polaris
3 – Corey Watkinson, Canada, Arctic Cat
4 – Andrew Carlson, Big Lake, MN, Polaris
5 – Trevor Leighton, Eagle, ID, Polaris
6 – Max Taillefer, Quebec, Ski-Doo
7 – Kevin Wallenstein, Cadillac, MI, Ski-Doo
8 – James Johnstad, Beltrami, MN, Polaris
9 – Korbyn Anderson, Allenton, MI, Ski-Doo
10 – Nick Pattyn, Ravenna, MI, Arctic Cat
Overall Pro Lite Points (9 of 16 rounds)
1 -Trevor Leighton, 311
2 – Ryan Springer, 302
3 – Andrew Carlson, 294
4 – Elias Ishoel, 292
5 – Travis Muller, 287
The AMSOIL Championship Snocross, powered by Ram, tour continues in Salamanca, N.Y., on Saturday with the annual running of the Seneca Allegany United States Air Force National at Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, Feb. 7.
Beginning with AMSOIL Championship Snocross’ season-opening round in Duluth, Minn. and running through the season finale in Lake Geneva, Wis., CBS Sports Network will air 17 one-hour programs of the ACS races.
2014-15 AMSOIL Championship Snocross, powered by Ram, season schedule:
Duluth, Minn.: Nov. 28-30
Fargo, N.D.: Dec. 12-13
Shakopee, Minn.: Jan. 9-10
Deadwood, S.D.: Jan. 30-31
Salamanca, N.Y.: Feb. 6-7
Chicago, Ill.: Feb. 20-21
Mount Pleasant, Mich.: Feb. 27-28
Lake Geneva, Wis.: March 13-15
Photos courtesy of Lissa Marsolek/ISOC