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June 19, 2022

BRL SLM S18 R1 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

18 June 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 18 | Round 1
Super Late Model Series | Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway
Photograph by: Michael Goodman
Sim Racing Software: iRacing

Mathew Thunhorst took the first win of the new season in the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway ahead of J R Shepherd and Justin Morton. “That was really good hard racing”, Thunhorst commented at the end of the night about the intense battle against Shepherd, “I was struggling to get around [Shepherd]. You know, just trying to get enough of a run to do anything with him. That’s why I was trying different things and then I’d get the tires heated up a little bit and I backed off a little bit and they’d come back to me.”

Joe Segalla started on the pole with Joseph Snyder to his outside as the green flag came out over the field officially starting the 18th season of the Super Late Model Series. Austin Boelke, J R Shepherd, and Mathew Thunhorst started in 5th through 7th place in the running order. After a chaotic start, Shepherd jumped up to 2nd place and challenged Segalla for the lead. Segalla conceded the position and went single file holding onto 2nd place as Shepherd started to pull away.

Justin Morton, who started back in 16th, was up into the top 10 and continued a hard charge to the front 15 laps into the night. Thunhorst got around the outside of Boelke and moved up to 5th while Segalla and Kurt Smith battled over 2nd place. Thunhorst pushed to close the gap to Shepherd and quickly maneuvered around Smith and Segalla for 2nd place and went to work reeling the leader in. Shepherd and Thunhorst were separated by 0.7 with 30 laps competed as the two drivers pulled away from the rest of the field.

Morton was up to 5th and closing on the battled still going on between Segalla and Smith over 3rd place. Morton was able to overtake Smith and closed on Segalla quickly before taking 3rd place on the following lap with over 3 seconds to make up to the leaders. Thunhorst closed the gap to Shepherd to only 0.2 going into lap 40 as Shepherd ran a defensive line to hold off Thunhorst’s advance. Boelke moved up to 5th and was pressuring Smith while James Lowe challenged Segalla for 6th.

Michael Goodman was back into the top 10 after falling back in the earlier stages of the race and was closing in on Ryan Senneker and Bryan Dehn ahead of him. As the drivers crossed the halfway point, Thunhorst had yet to find a way around Shepherd for the lead with Morton still over 3 seconds behind them. Boelke was still running in 5th very close behind Smith waiting for an opening to take advantage of with Lowe and Dehn closing up behind him as the field became spread out around the track with multiple small packs forming and drivers finally settling in.

On lap 67, Thunhorst was able to get his nose to the inside of Shepherd and tried to take away the lead. Shepherd stayed alongside him fighting back as the two drivers ran almost identical paces door to door for several laps. Morton used the opportunity to close in on the battle only around 1 second behind and closing quickly. With 25 laps remaining, Thunhorst was able to clear ahead of Shepherd after battling side by side for 8 intense laps. Morton made up even more time and was running close behind Shepherd going into the final stretch.

Thunhorst was able to pull away with the lead quickly building a large gap between himself and Shepherd. Morton was pressuring Shepherd for 2nd place as Shepherd struggled showing definite signs of excessive tire wear after running the battle with Thunhorst. Shepherd ran a tight, defensive line to hold back Morton with the gap to the leader extended out to 2 seconds going into the final 10 laps. Segalla was holding onto 8th place for the pole position in the next round holding off Senneker and Donny Moore behind him rounding out the top 10.

Thunhorst was quickly approaching lap traffic for the first time of the night with 3 laps to go and opted to give up some pace rather than risk negotiating through the traffic so late in the race with over a 2 second lead over Shepherd. Thunhorst took the checkered flag following the lap traffic across the line. Shepherd held onto 2nd place over Morton with Boelke and Lowe rounding out the top 5 finishers tonight at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway for the first round of Season 18 of the Super Late Model Series.

Mathew Thunhorst starts the new season off leading the point standings with 40 points. J R Shepherd has 2nd place over Justin Morton, Austin Boelke, and James Lowe with each driver separated by only 1 point respectively. The drivers of the Bootleg Racing League now set their sights to Hickory Motor Speedway for the next round on June 25th with all of the action broadcast live at 8:55PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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