For the fourth straight ISOC Amsoil Championship Series snowmobile snocross final, Tucker Hibbert won by a wide margin on his Arctic Cat. This one was different, however.
The 28-year-old dominator from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, had to work hard for this one. And once he did get the lead, controversy occurred behind him.
The site was the Canterbury Park facility in Shakopee, Minnesota. Racing was held on a small, tight course in almost ideal winter conditions – about 20 degrees with light winds.
Pro Open Snowmobile Snocross
Defending points champion Tim Tremblay and the sport’s winningest driver, Tucker Hibbert, both went undefeated in qualifying and would get lane choice for the final, a race which included six Polaris, five Ski-Doo and four Arctic Cat snowmobiles.
On green, it was Ross Martin (Polaris) who hooked up and punched his sled out front first, with Tremblay (Ski-Doo) on his flap, Swedish Sensation Petter Narsa (Ski-Doo) third, Hibbert (Arctic Cat) fourth and Kody Kamm (Polaris) fifth.
Hibbert and Kamm quickly moved past Narsa. Then Martin, Tremblay and Hibbert moved away from the rest of the 15-sled pack and staged their own, private three-sled battle for the first half of the 22-lap final.
Martin held the point for the first dozen laps, but was always under attack, as the top three were never more than 2 seconds apart racing on a clear track with no lapped sleds yet in sight. Tremblay charged particularly hard into corners a couple of times, appearing to attempt to bank off of Martin’s sled, but Martin continued to escape unscathed. One such aggressive move cost Tremblay second place, however, as he dove in hard after Martin but was then undercut by Hibbert.
Martin and Hibbert then opened a small gap on Tremblay – Martin seemed to have better lines on the front stretch while Hibbert was making up distance on the more bumpy backstretch.
Then, on lap 12, Hibbert got to the inside of Martin on the frontstretch, drove hard into turn 1, rubbed Martin a bit in mid-turn and then drove away with the lead on the backstretch.
It was a lead he would never relinquish. Behind him? Well, things got very interesting. Martin and Tremblay hadn’t settled their dispute over who presumably would stand on which podium step, but as it turns out, neither would be there. Tremblay got into Martin hard in turn 1, tipping over the second place sled in a bad spot, leaving Martin struggling to get his sled back on its skis for about 30 seconds. By the time his sled was righted and refired, Hibbert had already made a complete lap and put Martin a lap down. Martin re-entered in about 10th.
About a lap later, the flagman was waiting for Tim Tremblay with a special flag in his hand: The black one. ISOC race officials determined Tremblay took out Martin with overly aggressive driving, and with that he was disqualified. Tremblay’s body language when he saw the flag, and after the race and he drove around and discussed the situation with various race officials, said that he didn’t agree with that decision.
Martin’s off and Tremblay’s DQ moved rookie Kody Kamm all the way up to second, and Petter Narsa to third, positions they held until the met the waving checkered flag. It was Kamm’s second podium in as many nights – he finished third on Friday – and Narsa’s first podium of the year. Justin Broberg (Polaris) had his best finish of the year in fourth, with Kyle Pallin (Polaris) in fifth. They were followed by Emil Ohman (Ski-Doo), Logan Christian (Arctic Cat); Robbie Malinoski (Ski-Doo) and Levi LaVallee (Polaris), with Martin settling for 10th. The rest of the field, in order, were Garth Kaufman (Arctic Cat), Zach Pattyn (Ski-Doo), Colby Crapo (Polaris) and Derek Ellis (Arctic Cat).
For Hibbert, it was his fourth straight ISOC national victory in six finals so far this year. And while his margin of victory may have gotten inflated by the carnage behind him, the fact that he won was not in question once he worked his way into the lead on his Monster Energy/Ram Trucks Arctic Cat.
“It was a little bit harder to get up here [on the podium] than it was last night,” Hibbert said. “It was a lot of fun, actually,” he said, referring to the early race battle with Martin and Tremblay.
Kamm was fired up about his second podium in as many nights on his Hentges Racing Polaris, though he referred to himself as “lucky” to be up on the box with the problems encountered by Tremblay and Martin.
“I got off to a good start in fourth and them guys were just on a different level from me again tonight,” Kamm said.
Narsa said he liked the track but admitted that its short, bumpy nature was rather foreign to him. That’s a common footnote by Scandinavian drivers, who normally compete on much longer tracks back home. His Boss Racing Ski-Doo is backed by Jimmy John’s.
Pro Lite Snowmobile Snocross
After having a problem in a heat race yesterday – which resulted in a trip through the last-chance qualifier and a dreaded back-row starting position in the final – Pro Lite points leader David Joanis didn’t leave anything to chance Saturday night at Canterbury Park.
The Ontario driver of the Royal Distributing-backed Ski-Doo got the holeshot and never surrendered the lead, though he did have a few challenges in the first half of the race.
Otsego, New York-based Corin Todd held second for much of a race, often choosing the wide line around the first turn to try to improve his lap times. Jake Scott bumped into him early but then fell back to fourth, behind Wisconsin’s Andy Lieders.
Joanis slowly started to pull away up front, but the battle for the second-through-fourth among the three Polaris sleds was tight. Scott got into again Todd later in the race, then Lieders dove beneath both of them to finish second, with Todd third and Scott fourth. Friday night’s winner, Travis Muller claimed fifth.
“I had a goal coming in this weekend, I wanted to be on the [podium] box both days,” Joanis said after the race. He had to work especially hard for his third-place finish Friday. Saturday, he was smooth and fast, and always at the front.
Lieders was leading when he crashed out on Friday – for which he described himself as so frustrated that “I could even speak last night.” Saturday’s second may not completely make up for it, but he’ll take it.