Tucker Hibbert’s complete domination of the snocross racing world doesn’t look like it’s going to come to a close anytime soon, but his win Saturday night at the season-opening Amsoil Duluth Snocross came after he chased down his child protégé and held off a charge by his cousin.
In the end, it was a one-two-three finish for Arctic Cat, and an all-Hibbert tied podium. The Pro Open final is Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.
The Pro Stock final started with an incredible holeshot by Dan Ebert – the son of legendary Arctic Cat wrencher Russ Ebert, the man who just-so-happened to be Tucker Hibbert’s mechanic in his first 10 years as a racer. Robbie Malinoski slotted into second, and Hibbert third, followed by a hard-charging Brett Bender, who started in the second row. Garth Kauffman and Cory Davis followed.
Ebert built a couple second lead while Hibbert worked past Malinoski by lap four and set his sights on the No. 60 Polaris. It took Hibbert six more laps of following Ebert before his sliced into the lead in turn one as the two approached lapped traffic.
After that, it was all Hibbert, as he pulled away to a comfortable margain.
In the pack, two top Polaris racers were experiencing early-season problems which could come back to haunt them in the points race later this year. First, Malinoski tipped over after trading some paint with Bender, and then his sled briefly started on fire. His night was done.
About five laps later, defending Pro Stock champ Levi Lavallee, who was mired in traffic all night, tipped off on the front stretch and pulled off the track.
Kaufman, meanwhile, was on the charge, working through a ton of traffic and getting within a half-second of Ebert at the finish line.
In the end, it was Hibbert, Ebert and Kaufman, one-two-three.
After the race, a calm and collected Hibbert looked like he barely broke a sweat.
“It was kind of nice to be able to follow Dan” early in the race, Hibbert said. “He had some really nice lines. I found his line s and then tried some of my own.”
Ebert finished second, but he may have been the most joyful person on the podium, collecting countless high-fives and hugs from family members and fans as he finished second in his first-ever Pro race.
“I remember as just a little kid hanging out with Tucker and now I’m up here standing next to him” on the podium, Ebert said. “It’s incredible.”
He credited his holeshot to a clutching package from Speedwerx. Then he ran his race, but knew Hibbert had to be coming.
“I heard him, and I always knew he was the threat,” Ebert said. “He’s just an animal.”
Kaufman, meanwhile, is Hibbert’s cousin. The former freestyler who finished last year strong on the pro snocross circuit said, “I’m starting off kind of where I left off last year.”
Tim Tremblay finished fourth on a Ski-Doo, followed by Ross Martin on a Polaris, Swedish import Emil Ohman on a Doo, Brett Bender on a Polaris and Cory Davis on a Cat. Matt Judnick and Zach Pattyn rounded out the top 10.
In earlier action, Justin Tate claimed the Pro Plus 30 class on a Polaris, and Kylie Abrahamson won Pro Women.
The Semi-Pro Open class went to Mike Bauer and an Amsoil/Jack Links sponsored Polaris. Kyle Pallin got close on a Cat, but Bauer held on.
“I knew he was right behind me and I just had to keep going – the lapped traffic was brutal,” Bauer said. Birthday bay Chris Kafka finished third and pledged to come back Sunday in Semi-Pro Stock with an even better birthday weekend celebration.