Tucker Hibbert apparently didn’t want to leave any questions unanswered on Sunday afternoon in Michigan.
After starting slowly and staging dramatic charges in both finals in rounds 1 and 2 in Duluth, Minnesota, last weekend, and then giving up the lead due to a mechanical problem Saturday in round 3 in Michigan, Hibbert got the early lead and absolutely checked out in Sunday’s Pro Open final at the ISOC Amsoil Championship Series Blackjack National.
With the victory, the winningest driver in snocross history has slotted himself firmly in second place in the season point and, more importantly, served notice to all who may have thought his run was over with a dominating performance.
Hibbert won both of his heat races on his Monster Energy/Speedwerx/Stud Boy Arctic Cat and went into the final as the No. 1 qualifier. That allowed him to choose his starting position in the final, and he didn’t waste the opportunity. He was one of a pack of sleds that launched into the first kink, but then his sled power surged ahead and climbed the hill much faster than his competition. Coming down the hill the first time, he already had a 5-sled-length lead on points leader Ross Martin’s Dupont-backed Polaris, with Tim Tremblay third on his Warnert Ski-Doo, Emil Ohman fourth on another Ski-Doo and then Robbie Malinoski and his Polaris fifth.
After that, Hibbert was just relentless, adding onto his lead at an average of a second a lap. It was like a replay of recent X Games snocross finals, as viewers we left to just sit back and watch greatness. There was one bobble early, but otherwise Hibbert was flawless.
Martin, winner of two of the first three ISOC rounds, including a big win Saturday afternoon on the same track, was solid in second and held his spot throughout, but never seriously challenged. He finished 15 seconds back in second. Malinoski rallied for third – darting by Ohman early and then getting past Tremblay on the downhill on lap five. He earned his third podium finish of the season.
Tremblay was fourth, with first-year pro Darin Mees rallying for fifth, followed by a similarly rallying Garth Kaufman, then Johan Lidman.
After the race, Hibbert got a hug from his wife and high-five from Speedwerx owner and longtime-racer-turned-tuner Steve Houle before getting a handshake from his father Tucker. The team has had to overcome some mechanical problems with its first-year race sled, but things now appear pointed in the right direction.
“We’re just getting this thing rolling, hopefully we can keep doing this all year,” Hibbert said on the podium.
Martin acknowledged the obvious.
“Tucker just grabbed the holeshot and ran away with it,” he said. “The whole race, I think everybody was searching around and trying different lines.”
Malinoski gave credit to his team owner, Steve Schuering, and the rest of his team for “working their butts off this weekend.
“I hope I can keep this roll going,” he said.
On Saturday, Hibbert was leading when a mechanical problem forced him to slow. Hard-charging Ross Martin earned the win, ahead of Malinoski and Tremblay, with Hibbert fourth.
Sunday, Cody Kamm continued his run in Pro Lite, winning ahead of Andrew Lieders and Travis Miller. Saturday, David Joanis won the same classs, with Petter Narsa second and Derek Ellis third, all on Ski-Doos.