Published December 01, 2008, 12:00 AM

Hibbert sweeps Duluth National Snocross Pro titles

Tucker Hibbert won the Pro Open title at the Duluth National Snocross on Sunday to accomplish a rare double by sweeping the top professional classes at the event.

By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune

Tucker Hibbert said it seemed like yesterday when he was 13 and racing in the junior classes at the Duluth National Snocross.

Now 11 years and 40 professional victories later, Hibbert’s legacy is cemented into the history of the sport. He added to it on Sunday before a record crowd at Spirit Mountain by winning the Pro Open title to accomplish a rare double by sweeping the top professional classes.

Hibbert, who took the Pro Super Stock title on Saturday, joined Ross Martin as the only riders to earn a sweep at the Duluth National since the circuit went to two Pro classes in 1999.

“I’m just excited. I don’t know what else to say,” said Hibbert, of Goodridge, Minn. “It was another great day for us. It couldn’t be any better.”

Hibbert, 24, made his professional debut as a 16-year-old at the Duluth National in 2000, winning the Pro Open title. He is a six-time Duluth National champion but never swept until Sunday.

Hibbert burst into the lead at the start on his Arctic Cat, just as he did on Saturday, prompting one Cat fan to say, “See yah, Tuck!” Hibbert is so good that once he gets the lead, most fans assume he’s gone. With longer races this year, that took much of the drama out of the finish.

“I like the longer races because they play into all the fitness and hard work I put in at home,” Hibbert said.

Polaris rider T.J. Gulla of Jericho, Vt., gave a spirited early chase before crashing in the “Abyss,” the lower corner of the track that was a new addition this year. After that, it was Hibbert’s race to lose. He had a slight bobble on the first turn midway though the 30-lap finale and decided to race more conservatively.

“The first half of the race I was pushing really hard,” Hibbert said. “I knew what the gap was and wanted to put more room between me and the guy behind me. I put the hammer down, but then the track started to get rough, so I just tried to follow some good, solid lines that would be safe but still fast.”

Hibbert’s idea of taking it easy is still lightning quick. Race announcers said his final lap time was only about eight-tenths of a second off his best, a testament to his superior conditioning. Hibbert pumped his left fist as he soared across the finish line, giving him his 40th professional win by more than a half lap.

Arctic Cat rider Ryan Simons of Camrose, Alberta, took second while Martin, of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., took third on his Polaris.

After Polaris dominated last year’s Duluth National, Arctic Cat appears much stronger this year with a refined version of the sled they unveiled last year. But Hibbert, the Tiger Woods of the sport, seems fast no matter what he is riding.

“Always has,” Simons said, laughing. “There is not one pro out there where you can say, ‘That guy is slow.’ They are all super fast, super talented, but Tucker is amazing. You can’t say anything bad about the guy. Is he unbeatable? No. He can be beat, but he’s awesome at what he does and he works really hard at it. He earns it.”

Polaris took five of the six podium finishes last year, but Hibbert spoiled the rout by winning the Pro Open title. This weekend it was Arctic Cat taking four of the top six spots. Martin, who battled Hibbert in qualifying, isn’t about to concede as the circuit moves to Ironwood, Mich., on Dec. 12-14.

“It was definitely a tough start to the weekend, but a good end,” said Martin, who broke down on the first lap of Saturday’s final. “Tucker is definitely riding really well, but I’m not giving up. It’s fun competing against him, and I can only get better from here.”

r Event officials estimated the three-day event had a record 36,500 spectators, topping the 36,000 figure from 2002.

17th Duluth National Snocross

Thanksgiving Weekend

Final Results

Pro Open

1. Tucker Hibbert, 2. Ryan Simons, 3. Ross Martin, 4. Brett Turcotte, 5. Mathieu Morin, 6. Matt Piche, 7. Shaun Crapo, 8. Mike Schultz, 9. TJ Gulla, 10. Matt Judnick, 11. DJ Eckstrom, 12. Levi LaVallee, 13. Robbie Malinoski, 14. Garth Kaufman, 15. Carl Schubitzke

Pro Super Stock

1. Tucker Hibbert, 2. Levi LaVallee, 3. Ryan Simons, 4. TJ Gulla, 5. Matt Piche, 6. Garth Kaufman, 7. Mike Schultz, 8. Brett Turcotte, 9. D.J. Eckstrom, 10. Shaun Crapo, 11. Matt Judnick, 12. Mathieu Morin, 13. Carl Schubitzke, 14. Bobby LePage, 15. Ross Martin

Pro Plus 30 Super Stock

1. Earl Reimer, 2. Justin Tate, 3. Chad Bauerly, 4. Rob Irving, 5. Karl Christian, 6. Michael Berghorn, 7. Tuffy McDonald, 8. Scott Nelson, 9. Scott Haala, 10. Jared Selsmeyer, 11. Derek Krause, 12. Tim Harnois, 13. Jeremy Childers, 14. Greg Weever, 15. Scott Nuss

Pro Women Super Stock

1. Carly Davis, 2. Kylie Abrahamson, 3. JC Hupe, 4. Sarah McQuestion, 5. Angela Vacchino, 6. April Moritz, 7. Lina Kaasalainen, 8. Christina Herheim, 9. Taylor Carlson, 10. Kendra Daniel, 11. Katie Baxter, 12. Kailee Hass

Semi Pro Open

1. Bobby LePage, 2. Chris Kafka, 3. Christian Salemark, 4. Logan Christian, 5. Welsey Selby, 6. Derek Ellis, 7. Paul Bauerly, 8. Mike Bauer, 9. Kyle Pallin, 10. Dylan Martin, 11. John O’Malley, 12. Ryan Carey, 13. Willie Elam, 14. Sam McLam, 15. David Joanis

Semi Pro Super Stock

1. Dylan Martin, 2. Cory Davis, 3. Logan Christian, 4. Christian Salemark, 5. Chris Kafka, 6. Paul Bauerly, 7. Derek Ellis, 8. Tim Tremblay, 9. Mike Bauer, 10. Matt Bristow, 11. Welsey Selby, 12. Chase Rosemeyer, 13. Ryan Carey, 14. John O’Malley, 15. Ben Espeseth, 16. Jason Stone, 17. Darrin Mees