Published November 26, 2012, 12:06 AM

Malinoski, Scheuring Speed Sports dominate Duluth National Snocross

Robbie Malinoski led a Ski-Doo romp as the Aurora-based Scheuring Speed Sports team swept the top three spots in Sunday’s Pro Open final at the 21st annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross.

By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune

Robbie Malinoski rode his snowmobile off the track at Spirit Mountain on Sunday and gradually made his way along the fence in front of the grandstand, high-fiving fans who reached out to congratulate him.

When Malinoski reached the podium area, he stopped and took off his racing helmet.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Malinoski said.

It sure doesn’t.

Malinoski led a Ski-Doo romp as the Aurora-based Scheuring Speed Sports team swept the top three spots in Sunday’s Pro Open final at the 21st annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross. That made it a clean sweep for Malinoski, who also rode to victory in Saturday’s Pro Open final.

“This is super exciting. I’m super pumped for everyone on this team,” said Malinoski of Stacy, Minn. “We had a good sled last year and just built on it from there. We didn’t have to start fresh or reinvent the wheel. Instead, we just picked up where we left off. It was a quick transition getting up to speed. This team works so hard, and that hard work showed off this weekend.”

With the team’s primary sponsor, Amsoil, well-represented on the podium of its namesake event, team owner Steve Scheuring was understandably giddy after Sunday’s race.

“That was fantastic,” Scheuring said. “The greatest moments of my life were marrying my wife and having my daughter, but in the racing world, this tops the cake.”

Malinoski was the No. 1 qualifier after strong preliminary rounds, so he got his choice of starting spots for Sunday’s final. He chose wisely, bursting to the lead during the “hole shot” like he had been fired from a cannon. Teammates Tim Tremblay and Darrin Mees soon joined him up front, with Tremblay eventually working his way past Mees to take second and Mees holding off hard-charging Polaris rider Ross Martin for Mees’ first Pro podium finish.

“Man, what a hole shot,” Malinoski said. “It was so important to get out front, and then once I was out there, I just stayed on course. The track was awesome. Duluth did a great job getting this track ready. I’m just so proud of this team. It’s because of them why I’m standing up here.

“Steve sets the bar for the rest of us. When you see him at the shop, first guy in the morning, last guy to leave, it’s hard not to work harder. That’s contagious, from the first guy all the way down.”

Scheuring has always had strong teams and good riders, but with the offseason addition of Tremblay, the 2011-12 national points champion, he has created a Dream Team of sorts. This could be the year Scheuring captures that elusive first national title. The team is certainly off to a great start.

“Fourteen years ago when I started I knew we could have a special team,” Scheuring said. “Last year we had some magic, and adding Tim fits our mold perfectly because he’s got that drive like everybody else on this team has. Our team wants to win. The mechanics get just as much credit as any of the drivers for this weekend because we’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty the last two weeks to make this happen.”

Including Malinoski.

The 31-year-old Canada native is eligible to race in the veteran class, but clearly doesn’t need a rocking chair just yet.

“Shhh. Don’t tell anybody,” Malinoski said with a laugh.

While some riders are finesse, Malinoski is muscle. He is perhaps the strongest rider on the tour. Malinoski grew up riding with snocross legend Blair Morgan and also is one of the sport’s most hands-on riders. He’s a rider first, a mechanic second.

“I think it’s a big advantage knowing the sled inside and out,” Malinoski said. “Then if there is something wrong with it, you know how to fix it.”

Not much needed fixing this weekend.

While snow was hard to find in the Upper Midwest before this weekend, Scheuring’s team has been practicing at Planet X in Aurora since early November because of the facility’s ability to make its own snow.

If the Duluth National is the Daytona 500 of snocross racing, setting the tone for the rest of the season, then Scheuring’s team has time to celebrate while everyone else has to figure out how they’re going to catch up.

“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you there is going to be some celebrating tonight in Aurora,” Scheuring said with a big grin. “We set out the day after Lake Geneva (last year’s season finale) with the mission to make everyone scared to death of us after this weekend, and I think we did that. This is definitely a wakeup call. We put in the extra effort and it paid off.

“This is a special moment. We need to embrace this and enjoy it because two weeks from now we might not even make the final.”

NUTS AND BOLTS

  • Terry Mattson, Visit Duluth president and one of the event’s founders, estimated the three-day attendance for the Duluth National to be 34,500, bolstered by a record-caliber Saturday. It’s a loose figure in that the estimate has to take into account three-day passes, race teams and factory comps. All weekend, fans come and go, but there was certainly a strong contingent on hand for the Pro Open finals.

  • A half-hour Duluth National highlight show will air at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 30 on CBS Sports Network.

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