Tucker Hibbert completed his last race of the AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series the same way he started it – with a convincing win, completing his perfect condensed season going 8 for 8 in Pro finals aboard his Monster Energy Arctic Cat. With warm February sunshine, a technically challenging track and a packed house on-hand, Tucker Hibbert led the final field of 16 nearly flag to flag in the Pro Open main event at Brainerd, Minn.
The showcase race of the weekend was one of many firsts on the 2008-09 AMSOIL Championship tour. Aside from Tucker completing his perfect season quest, the race also marked the first pro podium for Brett Bender; as well as the first final of the season which saw both factory Yamaha sleds in the main.
It was first year pro Brett Bender (Polaris) who snagged the holeshot at the start of the 25 lap final, close in tow was Gulla (Polaris), Turcotte (Cat), LaVallee (Pol) and Crapo (Polaris) as they made their way down the back-straight mogul field. TJ Gulla, who previously in the weekend took a second in Pro-Stock quickly had his hopes dashed for another podium finish as his throttle cable broke on the first lap. Meanwhile Hibbert emerged from the start in seventh, but quickly dismissed several riders and moved into second behind Bender at the close of the first lap.
“The warm temps made the track sticky and the snow heavy,” said Hibbert after the race. “The roost was going to be an issue so I wanted to get out front as fast as I could”
And to the front he went, overtaking Bender in turn one on the second lap. Following the trio of Hibbert, Bender and LaVallee in the early laps was another first year pro, Andrew Johnstad (Polaris) who got around Turcotte and settled into the fourth position. Behind the leaders a battle raged as positions shuffled seeing Piche (Cat), Kaufman (Cat), Malinoski (Doo) and Taylor (Yamaha) work their way through the pack.
However the trio of Hibbert, Bender and LaVallee proved on this day they had too much of a good thing and retained their positions the entire 25 laps. It appeared briefly Levi might take over the second spot, but Bender showed poise and found fast lines and opened a gap on his National Guard Polaris teammate Levi. Behind them at the line it was Piche, Kaufman, Malinoski and Johnstad, while Taylor suffered a mechanical and was forced to pull off on lap 22.
It was an exciting post-race celebration for young Brett Bender, who was noticeably emotional after being awarded his second place trophy. “To be standing here (on the podium) with these guys is awesome,” said Bender. “I’ve been watching some of them since I was a kid and this is a goal I’ve been working towards for a long time.”
For Hibbert, Brainerd marked his last race of the season, as he shifts his focus on preparing for the national AMA motocross season. “Next weekend (Valentines weekend) I’m going to get my wife flowers,” said Hibbert jokingly. “Then I’ll start to focus on motocross. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ll be back next season, but this is less about championships and more about enjoying life and doing what makes me happy.”
When asked if there would be chance we would see him back on the tour for the last race of the season in Lake Geneva Hibbert responded with a nod and a smile to his father Kirk, “If we’re going to Geneva this sled will have a 41 on it and my dad will be racing and I’ll be running the pit board.”
Corey Davis Captures Semi-Pro Super Stock
The cream always rises to the top and such was the case in the Semi-Pro Super Stock final as Cory Davis (Cat) led nearly flag to flag while Tim Tremblay (Doo) battled through the pack for second and Brainerd area hero Dan Ebert (Cat) overcame a first lap bobble to round out the top three.
At the drop of the green it appeared Dan Ebert was blessed with a holeshot and clear vision at the front of the pack, but a miscalculation exiting the long stretch of moguls on the far side of the track, shuffled Ebert all the way back eighth place, giving the lead to his teammate Davis. Tim Tremblay was even deeper in the pack, as a less than desirable start saw him cross the line in the opening laps in ninth place.
Up front it was Davis followed by Derek Ellis (Polaris), Mike Bauer (Polaris) and Paul Bauerly (Doo), as the field laid down some blistering lap times in the 20 lap final. But past the halfway point in the race, both Tremblay and Ebert found an incredibly fast line through the long mogul riddled “land-mine” section of the track ad the new line allowed them to pick-off slower riders. At one point Tremblay was clicking off laps a full second faster than anyone on the field and looked to be a threat for the lead, but a yellow flag incident which just missed Davis but caught Tremblay forcing him to slow, gave Davis the breathing room he needed to complete the win.
JC Hupe Wins Pro Women; Cody Thomsen Shines in Sport Super Stock #2; Ski-Doo Sweeps Pro Plus 30 Super Stock
In Pro Women, it was a final race filled with attrition as Taylor Carlson (Cat) suffered a rough get-off and was unable to continue and favorite Carly Davis (Cat) had a mechanical ending her chances for a podium finish as well. That opened the door for JC Hupe (Cat) who led Christina Herheim (Polaris) and April Moritz (Cat) to the finish line.
In Sport Super Stock #2, Cody Thomsen (Cat) of Nisswa took the win over Dusty Miller (Cat) and Andrew Lieders (Polaris) in a race that saw a first lap pile-up causing a red flag and a restart. The incident forced a handful of riders to restart on the back row, while others were unable to continue.
Former top guns in the pro ranks rose to the top in the Pro Plus 20 Super Stock final, as Justin Tate led Earl Reimer and Chad Bauerly at the finish, giving Ski-Doo a clean sweep in the class.
For complete race results visit ISOCRacing.com