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September 25, 2022

BRL SLM S19 R1 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

24 September 2022
Bootleg Racing League | Season 19 | Round 1
Super Late Model Series | New Smyrna Speedway
Sim Racing Software: iRacing

Mathew Thunhorst took the first checkered flag of the new season in the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series at New Smyrna Speedway ahead of J R Shepherd and Kevin Moody. “I was working hard every lap… The worst feeling you can have as a leader is you just watch the guy behind you just slowing taking tenths out”, Thunhorst commented as the night came to a close, “Even though I might not have been pushing real hard I was working hard in the car.”

Justin Morton sat on top of the timing and scoring boards in qualifying with a fast 4-lap average clocked at 17.665 beating J R Shepherd by 0.035 and, with the new invert system this season, Morton started in 10th place in the grid as the drivers went out on track for the 100-lap feature event. Lowell Jewell secured the pole position with Joe Segalla to his outside as the green flag came out over New Smyrna Speedway and the 15-car field raced into turn one. Jewell cleared out to a strong lead off the jump with Segalla close behind while Donny Moore and Todd Liston battled over 3rd place.

Mathew Thunhorst was quickly starting to push up through the track with Shepherd following him through the traffic as Morton struggled in the opening laps getting caught in an incident on lap 4 and sliding back to the rear of the field. Segalla got to the outside of Jewell with 10 laps completed and tried to challenge for the lead but wasn’t able to complete the pass as Liston got to the inside taking away 2nd place. Thunhorst and Shepherd took advantage of the hole Liston created as they held the inside line pushing Segalla back further into the pack. Thunhorst and Shepherd wasted no time getting beneath Liston and moving up into 2nd and 3rd respectively tight on Jewell’s rear bumper with 20 laps behind them.

Lap 22 saw the first lead chance as Thunhorst got around Jewell for the position and Jewell fell back to 3rd behind Shepherd. Morton was pushing up through the field again making up some of the lost positions from the earlier incident but struggled to get through the dense traffic with several side-by-side battles between him and the leaders. Segalla continued to struggle finding himself stranded on the outside as a tightly packed group of drivers cleared ahead of him before he was able to rejoin the preferred line.

As the drivers crossed the halfway point of the night, Thunhorst continued to lead over Shepherd and Morton was quickly climbing through the field up to 6th place. Donny Moore took 3rd away from Jewell with Kevin Moody following him through into 4th. Moody saw an opportunity and dove deep to the inside of Moore clearing into 3rd on lap 57 with Morton closing quickly. Matt Hoose started last in the field as was up 8 positions into 7th place with 40 laps remaining pressuring Adam Schoen for 6th.

With 33 laps to go, Morton got his nose beneath Moore and quickly took 4th place away before pulling away for the pack while Thunhorst had reached the first signs of lap traffic. Shepherd was struggling to find speed with the gap to Thunhorst growing larger as the laps counted down. Moody was still holding 3rd almost 4 seconds behind Shepherd. Morton was closing the 2 second gap to Moody, but not quick enough to contend for 3rd with only 20 laps remaining in the evening. Going into the final stretch, Mathew Thunhorst has a commanding 2 second lead over Shepherd when he took the checkered flag at New Smyrna Speedway with J R Shepherd, Kevin Moody, Justin Morton, and Matt Hoose rounding out the top 5 finishers tonight in the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series.

After the first round, J R Shepherd and Justin Morton are tied for the lead in the point standings with 47 points each and Mathew Thunhorst sits in 3rd place only 1 point behind them with the new qualifying points this season already shaking things up. Next week, the drivers of the Bootleg Racing League head to The Bullring at Las Vegas for the 2nd round of Season 19 on October 1st with all of the action broadcast live at 9PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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