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February 27, 2022

BRL GN S9 R8 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

26 Feb 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 9 | Round 8
Grand National Series | Lanier National Speedway

Mathew Thunhorst took the checkered flag for the 5th time this season in the Bootleg Racing League Grand National Series at Lanier National Speedway with over a second lead ahead of Justin Morton and Kenny Kibbey. “I just got really fortunate with [Morton] and [Shepherd] battling and that allowed me to get out there.”, Thunhorst commented about the struggles tonight and coming out on top, “See if I can give these ARCA cars, which are my favorite cars on the service, a proper send off in the championship here so, you know, definitely makes me feel better because I thought [Shepherd] was going to win here and, you know, with all the hard racing things got messed up and I got fortunate enough to get out front there.”

Joe Segalla started the evening off on the pole and led the field to the green flag with a strong start ahead of Stephen Spies with Justin Morton, Mathew Thunhorst, and J R Shepherd sitting in 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively as the drivers scrambled to get down to the inside line quickly going single file. Going into lap 13, Shepherd tried to overtake Thunhorst on the inside, but both drivers got loose going through the corners and neither driver had the advantage. As they battled over the next 4 laps, Thunhorst actually tried to advance around the outside of Morton for 3rd as their battle caught Morton’s rear but couldn’t hold the outside line and slid back to 6th behind Mike Holloway.

As the laps counted away, Spies struggled to find a way to get the lead away from Segalla. The first caution of the night came out on lap 25 as Chris Davis spun his car to the inside trying to set up a pass on Bruce Pearson for 13th place. Off the restart, Segalla was still able to hold off Morton as Spies was stranded on the outside line and dropped back quickly to 5th but was saved by the second caution of the night on lap 35. Adam Schoen spun out going through turn 3 and wasn’t able to get straightened out before the stewards threw out the caution.

Segalla got another strong start off the restart and held the inside line making Morton try to use the outside line to advance. The two drivers were door to door for 15 laps while Shepherd and Thunhorst were stuck behind waiting to see how the battle ended as neither line seemed to have the advantage. Segalla finally had to concede the battle when his tires spun going into turn 3 which sent him into Thunhorst. The contact was minor and helped recover Segalla from the spin as the lead battle began anew between Morton and Thunhorst and Segalla found himself stuck to the outside and was shuffled back in the field.

Justin Morton’s tires were showing signs of excessive wear from the battle with Segalla as Thunhorst made his way to the front on lap 59 and began to build up a gap ahead. Shepherd tried to follow Thunhorst on the inside line but found himself stuck in a battle with Morton instead and Thunhorst continued to pull away before Shepherd was able to overtake Morton. Spies then also tried to use the inside line with Jason Menda and Kenny Kibbey in tow overtaking Morton one after another dropping Morton back to 6th. With 25 laps to go, Kibbey made a pass on Menda and Morton took advantage of the opportunity sending his car in deep to move back up to 5th. Morton then dove deep again on Kibbey for 4th and was scored ahead as they battled when the 3rd caution of the night came out.

Spies lost the rear end coming out of turn 2 with only 21 laps remaining taking him out of contention for a podium finish and bringing out the caution. The 3rd restart had Morton in 3rd place sitting behind Mathew Thunhorst on the inside line and Shepherd out on the outside line in 2nd. Morton made sure to stay tight on Thunhorst denying Shepherd the inside line and taking 2nd for himself with 10 laps to go. Kibbey saw the opportunity and dove in tight behind Morton battling Shepherd for 4th as Shepherd struggled to hold the outside line. Neither driver was willing to concede until the final 2 laps of the race when Shepherd had to defend against Menda from behind. With all of the battles going on behind him, Thunhorst was again able to pull away and crossed the line with over a second lead on Morton.

Thunhorst continues to stretch his lead in the point standings with 317 points over J R Shepherd now by 7 points while Justin Morton sits close behind in 3rd place with 299 points. Shepherd’s chances to retake the points lead are quickly running out as the season moves into the 9th round at Martinsville Speedway where Donny Moore will start on the pole after finishing this evening in 8th place, the final inversion spot for the Bootleg Racing League’s grid, and you can catch all of the action broadcast live on March 5th at 8:55PM EST only on the Virtual Grip Network.

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