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June 26, 2022

BRL SLM S18 R2 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

25 June 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 18 | Round 2
Super Late Model Series | Hickory Motor Speedway
Photograph by: Michael Goodman
Sim Racing Software: iRacing

Austin Boelke with Different Path Motorsports took his first checkered flag of the season under yellow flag conditions tonight with the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series at Hickory Motor Speedway ahead of Justin Morton and Bryan Dehn. “To do it here, I’ve come so close to so many wins here… this is a rough track for me so to finally get the monkey off my back for this series and this track is pretty astounding”, an ecstatic Boelke exclaimed after taking his win, “I was just running the race I felt like I could and if I could get close to somebody, it’s just take advantage when you can.”

Joe Segalla led the field to the green flag to start off the night’s excitement with Kurt Smith alongside him to the outside. Segalla had a good jump off the start and quickly cleared ahead of Smith while the 19-car field struggled to get sorted out. Bryan Dehn moved up ahead of Smith and trailed close behind Segalla pressuring for the lead as Segalla held the inside line careful to keep the door closed with 10 laps completed. Austin Boelke was up to 4th ahead of Justin Morton and dove low beneath Smith to challenge for 3rd.

Dehn took the inside away from Segalla as Morton followed Boelke around Smith into 3rd and 4th place respectively. J R Shepherd was in 5th 20 laps into the night and had Mathew Thunhorst on his rear bumper as the two drivers cautiously negotiated through traffic making their way to the front of the field. Boelke started to pressure Segalla for 2nd place with Morton, Shepherd, and Thunhorst following single file while Dehn was able to put some distance between himself and Segalla.

By lap 30, the drivers settled in to put some laps behind them running single file around the track patiently waiting for opportunities to present themselves rather than forcing situations. Segalla was slowly reeling Dehn back in as the drivers approached the halfway point of the night. Going into lap 46, Boelke saw an opening beneath Segalla and dove low to keep the door open. Segalla was forced up the track as he got shuffled back to 6th with Morton, Shepherd, and Thunhorst following Boelke around. Boelke quickly closed the gap to Dehn and aggressively started pressuring for the lead.

The top five pulled away from the rest of the field as Boelke took the inside line away from Dehn on lap 56 and cleared for the lead. Dehn was pushed back to 5th behind Thunhorst who still couldn’t find the momentum to get to the inside of Shepherd as patience was wearing thin throughout the field. Morton was staying very close on Boelke’s rear bumper and keeping his car in a position to take advantage of any mistake Boelke might make as the drivers entered the final 30 laps and started reaching the rear of the field complicating matters for the leaders.

With only 22 laps remaining, the caution came out in an incredible upset as Shepherd and Thunhorst made contact on the entry of turn one sending Shepherd hard into the outside wall and Thunhorst off into the grass inside of the track. Thunhorst recovered in 9th place, but Shepherd was sent to the rear of the field in 16th place with severe damage to the front of his car. Boelke cleared for the lead off the restart ahead of Morton and Thunhorst aggressively started climbing back through the field. Thunhorst struggled to find a way around Jason Menda for 5th place as Shepherd worked back up to 11th behind Ryan Senneker.

With 6 laps remaining, another caution came out when Menda tried to close the door on Thunhorst a second too late and the two drivers came together in turn three sending Menda around on track. Boelke was running in the lead as the flag was thrown and crossed the line for the win under yellow flag conditions with Morton, Dehn, Donny Moore, and Thunhorst rounding out the top 5 drivers tonight around the always challenging Hickory Motor Speedway.

Austin Boelke is now tied with Justin Morton for the lead in the point standings with 77 points each going into the holiday weekend. Mathew Thunhorst fell back to 3rd place with 76 points after the incident tonight. Bryan Dehn jumped up to 4th place with 73 points and J R Shepherd fell back to 5th with 70 points. The drivers of the Bootleg Racing League now head up to Indiana to Lucas Oil Raceway on July 9th for the 3rd round of the season with all of the action broadcast live at 8:55PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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