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July 24, 2022

BRL SLM S18 R5 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

23 July 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 18 | Round 5
Super Late Model Series | North Wilkesboro Speedway
Photograph by: Michael Goodman
Sim Racing Software: iRacing

Mathew Thunhorst claimed his 3rd checkered flag of the season with the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series at North Wilkesboro Speedway ahead of J R Shepherd and Justin Morton. “That was really intense”, Thunhorst commented about the race long battle against Shepherd adding, “You get maybe a chance maybe every 10 or 15 laps and if you don’t hit it right, you’re not going to get in there.” Thunhorst shared with us that this may be his final race of the season due to personal reasons and will have to step back from the championship battle.

Justin Morton led the field to the green flag with Joseph Snyder to his outside starting off the 100-lap event. Morton jumped out to a strong lead as J R Shepherd and Mathew Thunhorst were aggressively pushing up through the field early on moving up into 3rd and 4th respectively in the first few laps. Thunhorst, Snyder, and Shepherd went 3 wide over 2nd place with Thunhorst high and Shepherd low around Snyder. Thunhorst was able to clear around Snyder into 2nd place as Shepherd held the inside line. Snyder conceded the battle after Austin Boelke got to his inside behind Shepherd and tried to drop down to the inside line, but contact was made with Donny Moore sending him around and collecting several other drivers from behind.

Racing resumed going into lap 22 with Morton still in control of the field. Shepherd stayed to the inside of Thunhorst as the two drivers ran side by side for several laps before Thunhorst dropped back to 3rd ahead of Boelke. Stephen Spies and Kenny Kibbey had climbed up into the top 10 from their starting positions in the rear of the field. Shepherd got a nose beneath Morton going for the lead on lap 30 with Thunhorst following him around pushing Morton back to 3rd as the three drivers pulled away from the rest of the field.

Going into the 2nd half of the night, Shepherd maintained control of the lead with Thunhorst following close on his rear bumper. Morton fell off the lead battle while Kibbey and Spies moved up into the top 8 ahead of Michael Goodman and were closing on Kurt Smith ahead in 6th. Smith was in a battle with Moore over 5th place but struggled to find an opening. Goodman battled back against Spies with 40 laps remaining clearing back into 8th as Snyder caught the battle and started pressuring Spies.

With the laps counting down, Shepherd wasn’t able shake Thunhorst and Boelke had closed back in on Morton going for 3rd place with 20 laps remaining. Spies fell back to 10th while Kibbey was still running in 7th behind Moore. Shepherd was negotiating through lap traffic one at a time spread out around the track with Thunhorst taking several looks to the inside getting impatient. Thunhorst got his nose inside with 13 laps to go but Shepherd fought back from the outside. The championship caliber drivers stayed side by side as they went into the final 10 laps.

With 8 laps to go, Thunhorst cleared for the lead with contact between the two drivers as they both went for the inside line. They were able to gather their cars back up and continued to battle as Shepherd looked for an opening beneath Thunhorst. In the final laps, Thunhorst started to pull away from Shepherd by several tenths and took the checkered flag with Morton holding Boelke off for 3rd closing out the night at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Mathew Thunhorst took the lead away from Austin Boelke in the point standings with tonight’s win now with 190 points. Boelke fell back to 2nd place 1 point off the lead. Justin Morton holds third place 2 points off the lead and J R Shepherd still sits in 4th place 3 points off the lead. Donny Moore rounds out the top 5 drivers in the points with 169 points. The drivers of the Bootleg Racing League now move across North Carolina on July 30th for round 6 of season 18 at Southern National Speedway with all of the action broadcast live at 8:55PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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