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January 8, 2023

BRL LM S21 R1 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

07 January 2023
Bootleg Racing League | Season 21 | Round 1
Late Model Series | New Smyrna Speedway

Kenny Kibbey with Nocturnal Gaming took the checkered flag tonight in the first round of the Bootleg Racing League Late Model Series at New Smyrna Speedway ahead of Mark Hertzog and J R Shepherd. “It was tough, these cars are really hard to pass in… it’s hard to makes runs”, Kibbey commented as the night came to a close, “Hoose made that mistake, and I was able to take advantage and from then on I just had to kind of manage the gap.”

J R Shepherd with Different Path Motorsports came into the evening strong jumping to the top of the timing and scoring boards with a 4-lap average time of 18.705 in qualifying starting in 10th for the feature event with Matt Hoose of Thunder Ridge Racing starting on the pole due to the Bootleg Racing League qualifying invert. Matt Thunhorst, a highly skilled driver and previous season winner, surprisingly opted to not qualify and lined up in 21st as the green flag came out.

Hoose had a good launch off the start and quickly cleared ahead of Kenny Kibbey going into the first corner while the 26-car field shuffled for early positions before going single file to get settled in to put some laps behind them. Kibbey stayed tight against the rear bumper of Hoose waiting patiently for an opportunity to take advantage of for the lead. Shepherd was quietly moving up through the field running in 9th and trailing a side-by-side battle between Jason Menda and Justin Morton for 7th ahead of him.

With the first 15 laps behind them, Hoose and Kibbey had started to build up a gap ahead of Donny Moore in 3rd over 1 second behind them. Shepherd cleared around Morton as Menda cleared into 7th momentarily before Shepherd quickly put Menda behind him as well with Tim Shinoski following him up into 8th. Only 1/4 of the way through the night, Hoose had reached the first signs of lap traffic with Kibbey still close behind. Mark Hertzog had climbed up 2 spots into 4th and was slowly reeling Moore in.

Thunhorst was struggling further back in the field up 9 spots into 12th but not pushing through the field as quickly as he had been earlier in the night. Shepherd had caught Lowell Jewell and quickly dove under to take 5th place with over 1 second between himself and Hertzog. With over a 2 second gap between the leaders and the rest of the field, Kibbey started experimenting looking to the inside of Hoose but seemed unable to challenge for the lead at that point as the caution came out as Hertzog and Moore came together. Moore recovered quickly from the resulting spin but dropped back to 11th for the restart.

Hoose led the field around to take the green flag going into the 2nd half of the night with Kibbey to his outside. Hoose and Kibbey quickly went single file, but Shepherd saw an opportunity and stayed to the outside Hertzog going after 3rd place. As they battled, Hertzog and Shepherd made contact sending Shepherd into the outside wall dropping back to 6th as the caution came out again. Further back in the field, Stephen Spies and Snyder made contact forcing Spies up the track putting Todd Liston hard into the outside wall and collected several other drivers down the front stretch.

Racing resumed with 41 laps remaining with Kibbey in control of the field ahead of Hoose. Hertzog dove under Hoose and was able to clear into 2nd after several laps battling side-by-side allowing Kibbey to pull away from the field. Shepherd was back up to 4th as Thunhorst broke into the top 10 and was continuing his climb running in 8th. With 30 laps to go, Shepherd saw his chance and cleared around under Hoose securing 3rd place. Lap 75 brought another caution with contact between Mike Allen and Joe Segalla resulted with Allen going around in turn two collecting Kurt Smith.

Kibbey took the green flag with a great jump in the final 21 laps of the night. Shepherd looked to the inside of Hertzog but had to concede back in 3rd while Hoose was able to hold of Shinoski for 4th. As the laps counted down, a late race caution came out from contact between Rubin Altice and Michael Smith further back in the field blocking the back stretch and ended the night as Kenny Kibbey took the checkered flag under caution flag condition with Mark Hertzog, J R Shepherd, Matt Hoose, and Mathew Thunhorst rounding out the top 5 tonight at New Smyrna Speedway.

J R Shepherd secured the points lead after the first round with 48 points. Tim Shinoski holds 2nd place 5 points behind Shepherd. Mark Hertzog sits in 3rd with 41 points and Kenny Kibbey, tonight’s race winner, in 4th with 40 points. Matt Hoose rounds out the top 5 in the point standings with 37 points starting off the new season. The Bootleg Racing League now heads over to Myrtle Beach Speedway for the next round of Season 21 on January 14th with all of the intense racing action brought to you live at 9PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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