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March 6, 2022

BRL GN S9 R9 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

05 Mar 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 9 | Round 9
Grand National Series | Martinsville Speedway

J R Shepherd with Different Path Motorsports took his 4th win of the season tonight in the Bootleg Racing League Grand National Series at Martinsville Speedway beating Adam Schoen in the drag race out of turn four crossing the line ahead by only 0.020. Kenny Kibbey took 3rd with Mathew Thunhorst finishing in 4th. “Extremely close race there at the end. Just first off, Adam ran an amazing race tonight so, you know, [if] that last caution hadn’t come out there’d been no way that anybody could’ve challenged him.”, Shepherd commented. “I just decided I had two bad weeks in a row where late restarts got me, and I wasn’t going to let this one do it.”

Donny Moore led the field to the green starting the night off with Adam Schoen to his outside. Schoen wasted no time diving deep to the inside and took the inside line and the lead away from Moore. Kenny Kibbey found himself stuck on the outside with Jason Menda and J R Shepherd not giving him any space to move down into but was able to maintain a strong pace until tucking in between Shepherd and Justin Morton in 6th.

Contact between Ryan Senneker and Bruce Pearson coming through turns one and two on lap 7 resulted in Senneker facing the wrong direction on track but didn’t bring out a caution as Schoen continued to lead the field. Menda and Rubin Altice made contact door to door on the 11th lap going into turn one when Menda got loose. As both drivers recovered Shepherd took advantage to take 4th away from Menda. Menda then got shuffled as several drivers followed Shepherd through with Menda finding himself in 9th.

Schoen and Moore, who was still holding onto 2nd, were able to pull away from the rest of the field as Altice refused to give up the inside line in 3rd but wasn’t able to keep pace with the leaders ahead. Shepherd decided to make his move on Altice diving deep below Altice going into turn one on lap 21. Altice tried to pinch Shepherd down, but the two drivers came together with Altice going high up the track and found himself dropping back on the outside of a long line of tightly packed cars to his inside.

30 laps into the race, Schoen still had a dominate lead with Donny Moore dropping back lap after lap and Shepherd still 2 seconds behind in 3rd. Kibbey, Morton, and Thunhorst followed single file in 4th through 6th position another second behind Shepherd. Shepherd caught up to Moore still running 2 seconds behind Schoen as they approached lap 50 putting pressure on Moore for 2nd place.

The first caution of the night came out on lap 56 when Todd Liston and Joe Segalla came together as Segalla went for a pass on the inside and Liston got loose chasing his car to the inside and into Segalla giving both drivers significant damage. Stacking back up, Shepherd now found himself starting directly behind Schoen with Moore to the outside as they came to the green. With a strong launch, Moore stayed alongside Schoen with Moore getting a nose ahead as they cross the line. Moore couldn’t hold the outside however as Schoen started to gain with Shepherd protecting the inside to take away 2nd.

Coming through turn four on lap 68, Morton was sent hard into the outside wall sending him to the pits as the race stayed green. Shepherd stayed close behind Schoen with Kibbey and Thunhorst all within one second of Schoen going into lap 75 as the rest of the field couldn’t keep pace dropping back over 2 seconds from the lead battle. Schoen started to again pull away from Shepherd with 20 laps to go as he consistently ran the faster lap over everyone else on track.

With 15 laps to go, the second caution of the night came out. James Lowe was running behind Jason Menda when an unfortunate wheel hop in turn three sent Lowe spinning around in the middle of the track. The field stacked back together and with Shepherd and Thunhorst both on the outside line in 2nd and 4th respectively. Schoen led the field to the green with Kibbey behind him and 10 laps remaining. Schoen had a strong launch but wasn’t able to get ahead of Shepherd as they stayed door to door. Schoen cleared Shepherd with 6 laps to go but Shepherd again tried the outside line not willing to follow Schoen to the checkered.

As the white flag came out, Shepherd had the led over Schoen with neither driver willing to back off. When the checkered flag waved it was Shepherd in the lead ahead of Schoen by 0.020 in the closest finish of the season with Kenny Kibbey taking 3rd followed across the line by Mathew Thunhorst. “Just unfortunate that that caution came out because that was going to be an extremely, extremely good win for [Schoen].”, Shepherd shared with us after the win.

This closes the points battle with Thunhorst now leading by only 4 points over Shepherd with two weeks remaining. Next week, the Bootleg Racing League Grand National Series heads over to Irwindale Speedway to continue the epic battle between Thunhorst and Shepherd. All of the action will be broadcast live on March 12th only on the Virtual Grip Network.

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