Ross Martin dominates the Dominator — againSNOCROSS: Ross Martin defended his title in the $10,000 winner-take-all Amsoil Dominator on Friday during the 21st annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross at Spirit Mountain.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
Tucker Hibbert joked Friday night that he was going to find the Judnick Motorsports racing team and have them foot the bill for dinner.
That’s because Judnick snowmobile racer Ross Martin defended his title in the $10,000 winner-take-all Amsoil Dominator on the opening day of the 21st annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross, with Hibbert taking second.
“This is incredible,” Martin said. “I was just happy to win this thing once, so to win it twice in a row is pretty amazing. Hopefully, I just keep on rolling.”
The Dominator originated last season to replace the Winter X Games qualifying that traditionally took place on the opening night of the Duluth National.
The Dominator uses a bracket format similar to NHRA drag racing, where riders race one-on-one until the field of 16 is whittled to one. The field was comprised of last year’s top eight points finishers, as well as the top eight from practice Friday.
Martin finished second in the Pro Open points last season and was the No. 2 seed, while Hibbert was fifth, with the higher seed getting his choice of starting line spot. It quickly became apparent in the early rounds that they were on a collision course for the final, and that’s exactly what happened.
After hotly contested semifinals, the stage was set for the 2¼-lap final: Martin against Hibbert, mano-a-mano, Polaris vs. Arctic Cat, $10,000 on the line in a fight between perhaps the sport’s two biggest names.
Martin decided to start on the middle, while Hibbert lined up next to him on the inside. At the green flag, Martin burst to the lead and never looked back.
“Each and every round means so much in this type of format,” Martin said. “You either win it or you’re sent back to the trailer. It’s that simple. That’s the main difference with this race. You have to make it happen quick, and half the time that means getting a great start. That’s the biggest thing. I got Tucker at the start, and it was history from there.”
With the Monster Energy girls presenting the winner’s trophy, it would have been rather fitting for Hibbert to come out on top as the beverage company is his primary sponsor. That wasn’t to be, however.
While Hibbert received no money for his second-place finish, it was still encouraging to be running fast after struggling with a new sled last season.
“I didn’t get the start I wanted, and that makes it hard to win that race if you’re not out front right away,” Hibbert said. “I tried to beat Ross, but couldn’t get it done. It’s a short race, and that doesn’t play to my strength, but the goal was still to win it. Compared to last year’s Dominator, I did a lot better. Our snowmobiles are competitive, so that’s encouraging. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Hibbert, of Pelican Rapids, Minn., beat popular showman Levi LaVallee in the semifinals. Hibbert was leading before LaVallee crashed into him at the turn at the top of the hill, with both riders falling off their sleds and their snowmobiles stalling. Hibbert got his sled going just in time to hold LaVallee off.
“It turned into a race to see who could get their sled started the quickest,” Hibbert said. “That made it exciting for the fans.”
Martin of Burlington, Wis., beat Robbie Malinoski in the other semifinal. Malinoski had the lead coming down the front straightway before Martin got past him on the inside and then cruised to victory.
Today and Sunday features traditional racing, with Pro Open finals both days. The Dominator is done for another year, but it provided a quick preview of what fans could see the rest of the weekend, and perhaps, even the year.
“The first race for me was the most nerve-wracking because once I get some racing under my belt, I just go with it, and whatever happens, happens,” Martin said. “It’s not like you can really change it. You just have to try your best.”
Tim Tremblay, Ski-Doo, Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc, Quebec, def. Derek Ellis, Arctic Cat, Fargo, N.D.
Levi LaVallee, Polaris, Longville, Minn., def. Kyle Pallin, Polaris, Ironwood, Mich.
Darrin Mees, Ski-Doo, Stanchfield, Minn., def. Cody Thomsen, Arctic Cat, Nisswa, Minn.
Tucker Hibbert, Arctic Cat, Pelican Rapids, Minn., def. Logan Christian, Arctic Cat, Fertile, Minn.
Ross Martin, Polaris, Burlington, Wis., def. Garth Kaufman, Arctic Cat, Driggs, Idaho
Kody Kamm, Polaris, Kenosha, Wis., def. Emil Ohman, Ski-Doo, Pitea, Sweden
Robbie Malinoski, Ski-Doo, Lino Lakes, Minn., def. Adam Renheim, Ski-Doo, Lima, Sweden
Justin Broberg, Polaris, Waukesha, Wis., def. Petter Narsa, Ski-Doo, Moskosel, Sweden
LaVallee def. Tremblay
Hibbert def. Mees
Martin def. Kamm
Malinoski def. Broberg
Hibbert def. LaVallee
Martin def. Malinoski
Martin def. Hibbert