After 16 rounds of snowmobile snocross racing and a combined 1482 points collected between the two of them, Tim Tremblay and Kody Kamm are separated by a mere two points heading into Sunday’s season finale on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross circuit, making this one of the most competitive seasons in a decade.
But as much as that is a huge story, Saturday night the guy in third place in the season points standings made sure everybody remembers why he is, beyond a doubt, the most successful and highly awarded snocross racer in the history of the sport.
Superstar Tucker Hibbert earned his seventh victory of the season with a strong performance that had him chasing Kamm in the early going and then using a combination of strategy and moxie to earn a big victory at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Sunday afternoon’s season finale will be carried live on the CBS Sports Network.
With winning heat races being almost as important in collecting points this final weekend as doing well in the final, Ski-Doo racer Tim Tremblay and Polaris rider Kody Kamm both had their 100 percent focus on each time they entered the race track on Saturday.
Each racer won their first round heat, earning the maximum number of points in that round. Kamm started round two with another strong victory and then, over the P.A. system, challenged Tremblay to match him.
Kamm may have thought he had an ace in the hole early in Tremblay’s race that followed, as Kamm’s Hentges Racing teammate Petter Narsa grabbed the early lead and ran strong and loose at the front. Tremblay closed a couple of times and then made a particularly hard charge on the last lap.
In the last turn, just a short-shoot away from the awaiting checkered flag, Tremblay dove in hard underneath Narsa, drifted up into him and pushed the Swedish racer off the top of the berm and off the race track. Tremblay took the checkered flag and the all-important victory points for the heat race to match Kamm at that juncture in the night, but the crowd – somewhat partisan toward Kamm as the race is relatively close to Kamm’s Kenosha, Wisconsin, home, booed loudly and let Tremblay know they didn’t like the rough stuff.
A Thrilling Final
After Friday night’s racing and then Saturday heat races, Tucker Hibbert’s chances of winning another national championship in snocross had pretty much evaporated, as going into the final Tremblay sat at the top with 722 points, just four points ahead Kamm, with 718 points. Hibbert was now 62 points back. Barring a vicious hotel fire or car accident that prevents both Kamm and Tremblay from even taking a green flag in a heat race on Sunday, Hibbert will not repeat as champion.
That didn’t seem to deter Hibbert in the final, however.
When the starting lights flashed green, it was Kamm who launched his red-hooded Polaris into the lead in the 10-lap Pro Open final, but Hibbert was on his heels in second on his Cat, followed by Scheuring Speed Sports Ski-Doo teammates Lincoln Lemieux and Tremblay. On the first major downhill on the steep snocross course that is held on a ski hill, Kamm opened up an impressive lead. The second time the same hill, however, he got rather crossed up in the air and almost crashed upon his landing – he appeared to be overdriving his sled a bit. Too much adrenaline? That’s a fair guess.
Still, he saved it, and with Hibbert nipped at his snowflap he continued to hold the lead. After two laps Kamm’s lead was .625 seconds, and it grew to 1.12 seconds after lap four. Hibbert would gain on uphills and in some corners, but Kamm seemed more gutsy on the steep downhills and would pull away again. On that fourth lap, Lemieux sat 5.8 seconds behind Kamm in third, with Tremblay 8.3 seconds behind in fourth. On the fifth lap, though, Tremblay found a spark and moved past his teammate into third.
The lap following that, however, both Kamm and Tremblay completed what’s called “the joker lap,” where, on the third uphill, they took a longer route that each racer was required to take at least once during the final. That moved Hibbert into the lead, Kamm back to second, Lemieux back up to third and Tremblay back to fourth.
With clear sailing ahead of him – and most importantly without having to fight the roost off the back of Kamm’s sled, Hibbert ran the night’s fastest laps and opened up a lead that grew to more than 6.7 seconds after lap 8 and 7.8 seconds after lap 9. Knowing that the “joker” section added roughly 5 seconds to a racer’s lap time, Hibbert now had a big enough gap over Kamm where a victory seemed immenent.
And, indeed it was. On the last lap Hibbert ran the joker section and came out of it about 20 sled lengths ahead of Kamm when the two sections of track rejoined. A couple of turns later, he flew through the air past the waving checkered flag for yet another victory in his historic career.
Kamm sailed past the finish line roughly two seconds later in second place, followed awhile later by Tremblay, who regained third when Lemieux took his turn at the joker. Ryan Springer claimed fifth, ahead of Kyle Pallin, then Adam Renheim, Petter Narsa, Ross Martin and Elias Ishoel. Andrew Carlson, Corin Todd, Brett Nastala and Tyler Adams rounded out the field.
By finishing one position higher than Tremblay in the final, Kamm gained two more points on the leader, and they go into Sunday’s final day of the race season separated by two points – with Tremblay at 742 and Kamm at 740. Hibbert’s victory put him at 685, 57 points behind the leader and 55 behind Kamm. If a racer sweeps the heats and finals, 59 points are available, so mathematically Hibbert still has a shot. However, both Tremblay and Kamm will earn at the very least 6 points just for starting their first heat race tomorrow afternoon, and at that point Hibbert’s run will be done, mathematically.
Words With Champs
After the race, Hibbert said he knew going into the final that the points race had gotten away from him but he still wanted to charge hard and put on a good show for his fans.
“Getting a good start was key, you know getting up near the front early was a big improvement for me. I haven’t been having the greatest starts,” Hibbert said. Then, when running second, he said, “I was eating so much roost from Kody it was really, really tough. He was taking the fastest lines and I had to do everything I could just to stay with him and avoid that roost. But the race strategy worked out good for me, taking the joker at the end.”
Kamm was his usual happy self on the podium.
“Tucker was riding good out there, he just had a little more speed than me everywhere,” Kamm said. “I think I took the joker lane a little too early. He was eating all of my roost back there, and I should have waited until the last lap like he did. He didn’t pull on me much when we were separated for that bit, and I just rode smart and finished the race in second strong, and I’m happy with that. The points championship is going to be tough tomorrow – lots of strong racing again.”
For Tremblay, the podium finish felt good after bitter disappointment in Friday night’s race, when his sled snapped a drive belt while he was leading.
The points race, “is going to come down to the last day, but today was a much better day” than Friday, Tremblay noted. “Yesterday I was leading the final and then had a DNF [did not finish] and that really hurt the points for the championship. I want to give it up to my team – they never give up and I never give up.”
“Just try to charge a little harder – I was not taking many chances out there and just rolling through some stuff and I think that really hurt me. Tomorrow, I’ve got to go all-in,” Tremblay said.