Here’s a thought: Don’t piss off arguably the best snocross racer of all time. Just sayin’…
Except for last night, every one of Tucker Hibbert’s dominant performances this year could be described with superlatives like “amazing” or “excellent.” But Hibbert used an extra dose of motivation to deliver an awe-inspiring display Saturday night in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Roughly 24 hours after being crashed early in Friday night’s final, then charging through the pack and coming off his sled again, and then get disqualified after the final for jumping in a zone with waving yellow flags signifying a downed driver, Hibbert was clearly motivated going into tonight’s final.
Then, his determination got the sort of boost normally delivered by about 11 psi coming out of a turbo charger. Hibbert got the holeshot in Saturday’s final and had the lead leaving turn two, but he got blasted from behind by Kody Kamm and knocked off his sled. All other 13 sleds that qualified for the final rallied past him, while an angry Hibbert ran back to and refired his Arctic Cat.
Kamm was black-flagged for rough riding when he came back around, so the apparent perpetrator was eliminated, but it became apparent later that Hibbert was directing his ire at the wrong guy.
Up front, after Kamm got flagged and pulled over, Dave Joanis held the lead briefly but then succumbed to Tim Tremblay on the No. 11 Amsoil Ski-Doo. The Quebec rider immediately opened up a three-second lead and looked comfortable up front while battles raged behind him.
The real rage was coming from Hibbert, though. We’re used to seeing domination, but he was on a different plane, passing drivers like a man possessed and making some of the sport’s top pros look like scrubs riding trail sleds. He’d cut inside one driver in a turn, close a three-second gap in a single straighaway and then pass the next guy.
On the very short track that made quick but bumpy laps, Hibbert moved all the way up to third place by lap 13, but the announcers said he was 6 seconds out of second place. Well, he covered that in two laps and cut under Joanis for second. He was then reportedly 3 seconds behind Tremblay – usually an amount considered a decent lead with such a quality rider up front – but Hibbert erased it in a lap and a half, followed Tremblay for about another lap looking for the right place to pass and then passed Tremblay in the air and sprinted away with two laps left.
In those two laps, Hibbert opened a huge lead – still riding as if possessed. He ended up winning by a large margin, giving an emotion-laden punch at the air when he took the checkered flag, then glaring back at Tremblay, flexing at him and the giving him a dismissive wave of the hand.
After the race, Tremblay appeared to want to see what the source of Hibbert’s anger was, but at first Hibbert didn’t want to talk. Then a third party stepped in and explained to Hibbert that it was Kamm, not Tremblay, that drilled him on the first corner.
“I was motivated, man, that’s two finals in a row that I come out of the first corner with the lead and come out last. I’m tired of getting pushed around,” Hibbert told the ISOC announcer immediately after the race. Later, on the podium, he publically apologized to Tremblay and his team, admitting that he targeted the wrong guy.
Tremblay ended up second on his Ski-Doo, and said, “I thought I had it in the bag, but my mechanic was telling me to push and push and psuh, but I wasn’t seeing anybody coming.” Then, Hibbert emerged from nowhere and won by a virtual mile.
Joanis ended up third, a second podium for the Pro Open rookie this weekend.