Saturday night in bitter cold, the term “what comes around goes around” played out in the world of snocross, as Tucker Hibbert gave the other racers a rare glimpse of hope by crashing out of his heat race, then took advantage of a similar crash by Kody Kamm in the final to earn a weekend sweep in Shakopee, Minnesota.
With the victory, Hibbert will open a huge lead in the points standings on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series heading into next weekend’s action in Deadwood, South Dakota, while Kamm, who came into the weekend tied for the points lead, finished both nights in last place in the final and is nursing injuries.
Getting Ready For The Final
As always, two rounds of round-robin heat races would determine which racers would qualify for the final. Ski-Doo racer Tim Tremblay swept his two heats and went to the final undefeated. Other heat winners were Petter Narsa, Tucker Hibbert, Kody Kamm and Logan Christian. Hibbert was actually leading his second-round heat race as well and was looking for his own sweep into the final when he crashed hard, and that crash forced him into the last-chance qualifier to try to gain a second-row starting position in the final. He won that race.
So, when the snowdust settled on the track after all the qualifying races, here was the field for the final. The front row, listed in order of how many points they gathered in qualifying, consisted of Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo), Kody Kamm (Polaris), John Stenberg (Ski-Doo), Corin Todd (Polaris) Petter Narsa (Polaris), Lincoln Lemieux (Ski-Doo), Justin Broberg (Arctic Cat), Corey Watkinson (Arctic Cat), Danny Poirier (Ski-Doo) and Logan Christian (Arctic Cat). Starting in the back row, listed in the order the finish in the LCQ, were Tucker Hibbert (Arctic Cat), Adam Renheim (Ski-Doo), Trevor Leighton (Polaris), Mathieu Morin (Ski-Doo) and Jake Scott (Arctic Cat). Missing from the final were some top-level racers, including Kyle Pallin, who suffered a mechanical breakdown in the LCQ, rookie Ryan Springer, who looked quite strong earlier this year, and Ross Martin, who didn’t race on Saturday as he struggled to recover from an injured ankle.
Kamm Early, Hibbert Late
On green in the final, the No. 54 of Narsa dropped off the raised starting line and into the lead first, though his Hentges Racing teammate Kamm was right beside him when they went through the first couple of turns, then Kamm stole the front spot and started to pull away.
Hibbert, meanwhile, dropped in with the second row but quickly diced through traffic on that first lap and worked his way quickly up to fifth, behind Kamm, Narsa, Lemieux and Stenberg. Considering that it was a 14-lap final and that racers were running about 48-second laps on the long course, there seemed to be plenty of time for the racer nicknamed the T-Train.
But Kamm was pushing hard up front and opened a 2-second lead on Narsa. Hibbert moved past Stenberg into fourth on lap 3 and then started heating up the rear bumper of Lemieux. He gained third by lap 5.
By lap five, the running order was Kamm with a 2-second gap on Narsa, and then Hibbert 3 seconds further back. The rest of the field, in order at that point, was Lemieux, Stenberg, Todd, Christian, Tremblay, Renheim, Poirier, Broberg, Scott, Watkinson, Morin and Leighton.
It only took Hibbert a couple more laps to get up to second, though his pass on Narsa looked odd. He charged into the first turn fast and cased a jump hard entering the turn. Yet while snow exploded around his sled due to the hard landing on the bump, his momentum surprisingly didn’t slow and he got under Narsa and claimed the spot leaving the turn.
At lap 10, the top 10 order was Kamm, Hibbert, Narsa, Lemieux, Stenberg, Christian, Tremblay, Todd, Renheim, Poirier, while the bottom five stayed the same. Most frequent observers probably thought the only thing left was to watch Hibbert do his usual chase down of the leader, something he has done countless times before. But Hibbert was not gaining on Kamm – in fact, Kamm even briefly expanded the lead to almost 6 seconds.
There appeared to be no let-up in Kamm, but that in fact may have been the problem. The young Wisconsin racer was etching a path on the far outside of the rough course, landed on top of a bump and crashed very hard off the track. In fact, it took him a couple of laps to collect himself and refire his sled, and even then he only slowly drove around the track.
Hibbert inherited the lead and breezed to another win – in fact, his 7.4-second margin of victory was the same exact margin by which he won Friday’s race on the same track.
So, the final order was Hibbert, then a 7.4 second gap back to Narsa, with Lemieux another 2.2 seconds back with a solid third. Fans had to wait another 9 seconds to see Christian cross the finish line in fourth, followed very closely by Stenberg and Tremblay. Renheim, Poirier, Todd and Broberg wrapped up the top 10. The bottom five were Scott, Watkinson, Leighton, Morin and then Kamm, who pulled off.
Words With Champions
When interviewed after the race on the ISOC webcast, which is simulcast on snowgosite.wpengine.com, Hibbert said, “It’s not easy coming from the back row, it was a tough second round for me with a big crash. [Then I] won the LCQ and just tried to focus on not doing anything stupid.
“The track was really challenging – as we can see, it got Kody. You just had to be careful and I just had to get through this race safe. I was OK with second place, I was OK with letting Kody win that one.” Hibbert continued. “I didn’t want to push myself to the point where I crashed. I just wanted to finish the race and get home in one piece, and, you know, fortunately for me and unfortunately for Kody, he threw the race away and I got double wins here at Canterbury – I’m happy, really happy.”
For Narsa, it was his second podium finish in as many nights. Narsa admitted that the track layout made him feel more comfortable than at other ISOC stops because the track more closely mimicked snocross courses in Scandinavia.
“It’s more like we’ve got back home – a little longer tracks, bigger whoops and stuff like that, a wider track. I’m having a lot of fun and am excited to be on the podium,” Narsa said.
Speaking of the ultra-cool weather, Lexieux said, “There’s nothing really that you can do, you just have to cover up as best as you can and stay as warm as you can. About halfway through the race my hands started to get cold out there and I was just holding on for dear life.”