If he didn’t send a clear-enough message at the second ISOC Amsoil Championship Series event of the year in Michigan, Tucker Hibbert doubled down on day one at the Canterbury Snocross in Shakopee, Minnesota.
The most winning driver in the history of modern snocross racing was racing on a new chassis last year and wasn’t his normal dominant self. This year, however, he has now won three Pro Open finals in a row, and each one of them was a complete wipe out of the field.
The track at the Canterbury Park horse racing and gambling facility was short but bumpy, with top racers running sub-30-second laps. A nice-sized crowd was there to watch the action, but tomorrow’s second day will be going head-to-head with a Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers playoff game, so only time will tell what size crowd will show up on Saturday.
Pro Open Snowmobile Snocross Final
Tucker Hibbert and Ross Martin each swept their heat races and were the first two “seeds” for the final, giving them lane choice. They took the center of the track. The field included six Polaris, five Ski-Doo and four Arctic Cat sleds – a good mix.
On green, Hibbert lurched ahead and grabbed the Stud Boy Holeshot award from one of his sponsors. Martin was on his snowflap and Kody Kamm on Martin’s. Behind then, Chaos reigned, as first a front row qualifier barrel-rolled and caught a second-row qualifier, then a second crash occurred 100 yards later. Among those caught in the carnage were last year’s points champion Tim Tremblay and Saturday’s No. 4 qualifier Cody Thomsen.
The top three never changed – they just got spread further apart. Hibbert ended up winning by 16 seconds, with Martin second with a large gap over the rookie Kamm. Behind them there was much position swapping, however.
Logan Christian (Cat) ran third for awhile but eventually succumbed to the pressure of Robbie Malinoski (Ski-Doo). Next Emil Ohman (Ski-Doo) blitzed past the fading Christian, and Garth Kaufman (Cat) would eventually work past Christian as well.
With no passed for podium position, the biggest news came on about lap 17, when it appeared Malinoski’s sled broke as he coasted to a stop of the backstretch. The points leader coming in, the Scheuring Speed Sports driver could do nothing but watch and Hibbert won the race and stole the points lead .
On the podium after parking his Monster Energy/Ram Trucks/Castle Racing Arctic Cat, Hibbert credited the hard work by his entire team for giving him the wide margin of victory.
“I feel real good, winning a race make you feel really happy,” Hibbert understated. He said his sled was working expertly and pledged to get well rested before Saturday’s racing. We’re thinking other racers might way to find out where he’s staying and make sure he enter’s Saturday sleep deprived.
“Tucker rode a great race,” Martin said after leaving his Jack Links/Dupont Polaris. “I tried everything I could to keep up with him but he had a little more speed than I did. We’ll come back tomorrow and try again.” Martin unofficially moved to second in points behind Hibbert.
For Kamm, it was the first podium of his rookie year on his No. 53 Monster Energy Polaris. He may have raised expectations last spring by winning his first Pro Open race at the season-ending race at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, but now that he’s healthy he’s starting to again show some promise.
Muller Wins Pro Lite Snowmobile Snocross
The Pro Lite final was an interesting battle of attrition.
Jake Scott (Polaris) grabbed the holeshot at the flash of the green light, but Andy Lieders (Polaris) edged ahead as the sleds drag-raced to the first turn. Then, in that first turn, Lieders broke with popular convention, twice. First, he avoided the inside line that included a berm that pretty much all racers were banking off of all night – choosing to swing wide on a smoother path. He then went for a monster triple over a rough second on the backstretch, also rare on this day in Pro-Lite. It worked early, as the Michigan-based racer immediately built a two-second lead.
It didn’t work nearly as well a couple of laps later, however. Lieders again chose the far outside line in turn 1, carried speed through the turn and attempted the big triple. This time, however, he cased it hard, and suddenly a hard-charging Scott was all over him. At about the midway point, Scott charged hard into turn one – too hard. He got dumped off him sled and had to chase it down in the sugary snow while other racers passed by.
That gave Lieders a bit of an advantage, but it didn’t last long, as Travis Muller slotted in behind him. Lieders clearly wasn’t on his game anymore, and he came off toward the end of the backstretch, then had trouble righting his sled.
Muller gleefully accepted the top spot and stormed away to a victory, with David Joanis – the points leader coming into the weekend – recovering from a second-row starting position to move all the way up to second on his Royal Distributing Ski-Doo. Speaking of recovering, Scott righted his sled after his crash caused by what he later called “a stupid move,” got back on the pipe and came all the way back up to third at the end.
Muller, racing for Warnert Racing on an NSK/Foremost Insurance Ski-Doo, said he was especially pleased to win in Shakopee, as his extended family were all in attendance.
Joanis said, “I didn’t get the greatest start from the back row, but things just started happening out there and I just ran my race and now I’m up here [on the podium]. So I’m pumped.”
Pro Am Women Snowmobile Snocross
Earlier this year, Swedish driver Marica Renheim surprised the snocross audience with a big victory In the Pro Am Women class at Duluth. She did announce after winning, however, that she was only racing in North America for two events before returning to her home country for the race season in Scandinavia.
What a surprise it was to see her in the pits for the Canterbury snocross on Friday. Aside from being a pleasant personality and good racer, Renheim also seems like the only racer who can challenge Quebec star Jennifer Pare in this class, so her presence makes this class far more interesting.
But Renheim might have been second-guessing her decision about 10 seconds into the Pro Am Women final Friday night. When the sleds left the starting line, Pare gained a narrow lead on her Polaris, but Renheim and Samantha Tarnowski (third in points coming in) were in hot pursuit. So hot, in fact, that their sleds touched while in the air, driving the racers into the ground and sending the sleds endo-ing down the front stretch in a dramatic crash. The term “scary” would be an understatement.
Both drivers crawled and then pulled themselves to their feet and off of the race course, so the final was allowed to continue. Renheim appeared to be moving around fine afterwards, with Tarnowski definitely looking like she got the worst of it.
With her top two competitors out, Pare turned this one into a laugher. winning by 39 seconds, according to the announcers. Megan Campbell finished far-back in second with Sasha Cook third, both on Cats. Campbell admitted on the podium that the monster first-lap crash directly in front of her shook her concentration.
“It was really scary, I hope they are OK,” Campbell said. “It was really tough to see that and keep going. It was weird.”