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January 24, 2023

BRL LM S21 R3 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

21 January 2023
Bootleg Racing League | Season 21 | Round 3
Late Model Series | USA Speedway
Photograph by: Michael Goodman

Justin Morton with Total Downforce Racing claimed his first win of the season tonight in the Bootleg Racing League Late Model Series at USA Speedway ahead of Mathew Thunhorst and Jason Menda. “I was cruising up front dreading a caution coming”, Morton shared with us as the night came to a close, “It did eventually come but I was kind of just trying to prepare myself for when it did happen, just trying to take care of the tires and I think that’s what gave me the edge over [Thunhorst] there at the end.”

J R Shepherd with Different Path Motorsports held the top spot in qualifying over Kenny Kibbey by 0.002 with his 4-lap average time set at 21.862 starting the feature event in 10th place with the Bootleg Racing League invert. Lowell Jewell of Thunder Ridge Racing led the 23-car field around to take the green flag with his teammate, Donny Moore, to his outside. Jewell had a strong launch off the start as Justin Morton was able to clear around Moore into 2nd before Moore could slot in line holding onto 3rd.

Kibbey was quietly pushing up through the field running in 7th as Shepherd seemed to struggle in the early stages holding around 10th with Thunhorst quickly pushing up to 16th from starting in the rear of the field. Going into lap 10, Morton had overtaken Jewell for the lead and was starting to break away from the field. Kibbey continued his charge to the front up to 4th and closing on the rear bumper of Jewell with Moore holding onto 2nd place. Kibbey tried to use the outside land to take away 3rd but wasn’t able to beat Jewell out of the corners and found himself stuck on the outside with Jason Menda and Thunhorst getting to his inside.

With 30 laps behind them, the top 8 drivers broke away from the rest as the field started to spread out around the track. Morton was cautiously extending his lead out to 1 second ahead of Moore with 2nd place through 6th all packed tightly together. Thunhorst got a nose under Menda for 4th and Kibbey took notice and quickly tried to follow him under. Kibbey and Menda made door to door contact sending Menda high up the track and falling back to 8th as he recovered and continued running.

Going into the 2nd half of the night, Moore was under pressure from Thunhorst while Morton further extended out his lead to over 2.5 seconds. Thunhorst was able to clear around Moore for 2nd place with Kibbey following him again up into 3rd as contact between Jewell and Moore ended Moore’s night early and sent Jewell back to 16th. Shepherd was still struggling to move up through the field running in 7th behind Menda with while Kibbey and Thunhorst looking to challenge for the lead.

The laps continued to count down as the majority of drivers were running single file waiting for opportunities to present themselves. Thunhorst had caught Morton while Kibbey seemed to be struggling and was falling back with reach of Todd Liston and Menda. Shepherd was also struggling unable to close the gap to Menda ahead with time running out. Thunhorst was started pressuring Morton to make a mistake, but Morton held his line well and was able to hold Thunhorst off.

Menda overtook Liston for 4th and was quickly closing on Kibbey. Going into lap 85, Menda got his nose to the inside and quickly cleared into 3rd place with Shepherd up to 5th. Morton continued to lead, and Thunhorst was starting to fall off the pace going into the final laps. As the checkered flag came out, Justin Morton came home with his first win of the season with Mathew Thunhorst, Jason Menda, Kenny Kibbey, and J R Shepherd rounding out the top 5 tonight at USA Speedway.

J R Shepherd continues to lead in the point standings with 143 points. Kenny Kibbey holds onto 2nd place with 133 points. Mathew Thunhorst sits in 3rd with 113 points with Jason Menda moving up into 4th only 1 point behind. Michael Goodman rounds out the top 5 in the point standings with 108 points going into the next round of the season. The Bootleg Racing League now heads over to Martinsville Speedway for the next round of Season 21 on January 28th with all of the intense racing action brought to you live at 9PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network!

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