Friday - Tucker Hibbert raced his Monster Energy/Arctic Cat to another convincing win in the Pro Open final, but not until after he was able to chase down early race leader Ross Martin. Martin grabbed the holeshot to position his Dupont/Jack Link’s/AMSOIL/Polaris at the front of the pack and built a substantial lead early in the going. About the time that Martin began to reach lapped traffic, Hibbert started jumping a technical step-up at the end of the first straight and immediately closed the gap.
Kody Kamm and Tim Tremblay battled all weekend with each collecting at least one podium.
Within three laps, Martin’s straightaway lead was reversed in Hibbert’s favor. Farther back, AMSOIL/Ski-Doo mounted TIm Tremblay worked into the third spot and started to chase down Martin. Tremblay would then encounter a battle of his own when Kody Kamm closed up on him and the two traded paint for several corners before Tremblay gained an edge. NSK/Ski-Doo rider Emil Ohman continued his second half surge rounding out the top five. On the podium Martin was visibly demoralized at yet another loss to Hibbert and like most of the pit area, at a loss for what it is going to take to change that scenario.
Tim Tremblay always finishes the season strong, overtaking Ross Martin for second in Pro Open points in New York.
In Pro Lite, Jake Scott quickly worked his way from a back row starting spot into a chase for the lead with Sportech/Arctiva/ Polaris rider Andrew Carslon. Carlson was having a breakout day as the top qualifier by virtue of two heat race victories and shot to the lead in the final before Scott tracked him down. Scott won his first heat race of the day but was black flagged when the side cover of his sled was dislodged, forcing him to pull into the mechanics area to make repairs and have to settle for fifth place points. Travis Muller was the runner up, keeping himself in the title hunt as he raced through the field ahead of third place finishing Dave Joanis, who also had to race from a 10th place start.
Andrew Carlson has made massive improvement this season and was rewarded with his best Pro Lite finish on Saturday.
Saturday - Kyle Pallin grabbed yet another holeshot to start the Pro Open final, but Ross Martin wasted little time claiming the top spot, with Colby Crapo and Tucker Hibbert in tow. By lap five, Hibbert had replayed his previous night’s highlight reel, racing into the lead and checking out on the field. Pallin held strong in third until lap 15 when he was caught by Tremblay. The AMSOIL/Ski-Doo racer then dispatched of Martin to claim the second spot, with Kody Kamm and Emil Ohman in his shadow and also making their way from deep in the pack.
Hibbert missed last year's round in New York but didn't disappoint his large fan base who turned out this year.
Pallin would drop to ninth overall at the finish, with fellow Polaris rider Martin also having troubles of his own falling to seventh. Justin Broberg and Colby Crapo both turned in their best performances in recent weeks, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
Dave Joanis living on the edge and sporting the new 6D helmet. Watch for a review soon.
In Pro Lite, it was more of the Jake Scott show as the native New Yorker gave his many friends and family in attendance a big thank you with a weekend sweep. There was a major shakeup in the closing laps of the final, when Dave Joanis punted second place running Corin Todd from his machine and was black flagged for aggressive riding. The contact knocked Todd out of contention opening the door for Andrew Carlson who had just raced his way past Jimmy John’s/Ski-Doo rider Renaud Alexandre. Carlson would finish in a career high number two spot, with Alexandre getting the final step on the podium. Travis Muller was fourth on his NSK/Ski-Doo, edging him closer to an outside run at the title. Trevor Leighton came home fifth, continuing his marked improvement during the second half of the season.
Nick Pattyn turned in one of his best qualifying efforts on Friday.
Zak Mason continues to terrorize the Sport class sweeping another weekend of competition on his Diesel Freaks.com/Walker-Evans/Stud Boy/Polaris. Mason will have to continue his charge right through the last round at Lake Geneva to have a shot at the title, as he missed two rounds earlier in the season and currently sits one spot behind Fort Freemont Marine’s Jake Angove and his Polaris. Angove had two fourths on the weekend that saw a few new faces on the box with Eddie Neubauer getting a second on his American Metalcraft Ski-Doo on Friday and Tyler Adams in the same spot on his Christian Brothers/Troy Lee Cat on Saturday. Adam Weller and Andrew Lindholm finished third, respectively on Friday and Saturday.
Track Notes - Huge crowds at both days of racing in New York, especially Saturday when fans showed up early for the ESC regional race and stayed right through the Pro Open final. As much as we have discussed and are not always big fans of the casino/small track formula, it is definitely working for ISOC. To their credit, ISOC has been good about adapting to the area they have to work with and have kept the tracks fairly wide to allow for multiple lanes of racing. They have also let the tracks develop longer without grooming, making them more technical and physically demanding.
Noticeably absent from the event was Jimmy John’s/Ski-Doo Pro Open rider Petter Narsa. Narsa was the runner-up at last week’s FIM World Championship race in Tuuri, Finland and upon returning to the U.S. was detained by customs officials for not having his work visa in order. Narsa was held for several hours before being sent back home to Sweden on the same plane he had just arrived on.
AMSOIL/Ski-Doo racer Robbie Malinoski sat out Saturday’s event when the pain in his injured left knee became too unbearable to allow him to ride at a competitive pace. Malinoski hurt the knee in a crash at the Eagle River World Championships over a month ago and has been trying to ride through it during this critical stretch of the season. He is scheduled for an MRI in Minneapolis on Monday.
Brett Bender elevating his old ride in the ECS regional Pro Open final.
Semi-retired Pro Open racer Brett Bender came out to take part in “almost” home town action over the weekend, racing to a very respectable third place in the ESC regional final. Bender looked his usually fluid self but did report on his Twitter account that he might not be getting out of bed for a few days this week.
A verbal shouting match following Dave Joanis’ DQ on Saturday may have completely eliminated his chance at earning the Pro Lite title he has been in contention for all season. Joanis has been on probation for an on-track incident in Deadwood and it has been reported that he could be banned from competing at the next round in Fargo, North Dakota. We will have an official announcement from ISOC early this week.
Andrew Carlson won three straight qualifiers during the weekend before capping it off with his second place finish on Saturday. Crew members Levi Ensrud and Dave Otto have the team sled coming off the line better than ever and Carlson’s focus and conditioning seem to be at peak form as he now sits seventh in the season standings.
Fly Racing/Bully Dog/Polaris racer Trevor Leighton is another Pro Lite competitor who has made massive strides this season, moving from 22nd in points to eighth in the last two weekends of racing. Leighton is another big, strong rider whose conditioning has completely elevated his late race performance.