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April 29, 2023

BRL SLM S21 R5 Recap

by Ryan Senneker

28 April 2023
Bootleg Racing League | Season 21 | Round 5
Super Late Model Series | Lucas Oil Raceway

During the Bootleg Racing League Super Late Model Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway, Aiden Young with Gambler Motorsports claimed his first win of the season. He managed to hold onto the points lead going into the next round, five points ahead of J R Shepherd, who finished second.

The race began with David Traylor starting on the pole and getting a great jump off the start, with Makayla Steffes and Joe Segalla following close behind. As the drivers scrambled to get to the outside line, Steffes got loose coming out of turn two on the second lap and was tagged by Jeffrey Hardin, causing both drivers to fall back to the rear of the field for the restart.

Traylor managed to hold onto the lead as the racing resumed, with Segalla running in second and Ryan Salvatore and Lowell Jewell battling over third. Young was conserving his equipment in 10th place, while Shepherd followed Matt Hoose’s lead and began to move up into sixth.

Fifteen laps into the race, Traylor pulled away from the field by almost two seconds, with Segalla and Jewell battling over third. Jewell made contact with the outside wall, and Segalla was able to pull away, while Hoose and Shepherd both pressured Jewell for third. Young was right on Salvatore’s bumper, looking for an opportunity to move forward.

On lap 22, Jewell got loose in turn 2, causing Hoose to make contact with him. Shepherd also got caught up in the incident, while Young sustained front left damage, and the caution flag came out on the track.

As the green flag came out, James Tiernan was up to ninth, quietly moving up through the field with speed to challenge the leaders later in the night. By lap 34, Shepherd caught Traylor and took the lead away, while Tiernan cleared around Young and was up to fourth, challenging Michael LeMieux for third.

The field settled into running single file as they approached the halfway point of the race, with drivers starting to think about pit strategy under green flag conditions. Tiernan was in third, with Young and Hoose following close behind, while Shepherd continued to lead the field ahead of Traylor.

Several drivers had come down pit road, but the leaders waited. Tiernan was the first to come down on lap 95, followed by Shepherd on the following lap, but he waited a few laps longer before coming down on lap 99. Young had a faster stop than Shepherd, allowing him to hold position ahead of Shepherd as he rejoined the track.

To make matters worse, Shepherd struggled to negotiate through dense traffic running side by side battling over positions throughout the field while Young had open track ahead of him, giving him a solid six-second lead over Shepherd. The top five had yet to come down pit road, with Young running in sixth, the first driver one lap down on lap 105.

On lap 108, Young was able to run down Salvatore, the leader, and reclaim his lost lap. Shepherd cleared the leader, getting back on the lead lap on lap 123, and was running in sixth, still over six seconds behind Young, as a caution came out on lap 124. Tiernan was in the lucky dog spot as the caution came out, setting the field up for an exciting finish.

Young won the race off pit road by a significant margin, while Shepherd rejoined the track in seventh place. Salvatore and Kurt Smith took the front row as the green flag came back out on lap 129, with Young wasting no time in going for the lead. Shepherd, on the other hand, aggressively weaved through traffic and got into second place just one lap later, keeping Young in sight. Tiernan managed to clear around Rory Collins for third place, while Young and Shepherd pulled away from the rest of the field.

As the laps counted down, Shepherd’s strategy began to reveal itself. During the last pit cycles, Shepherd opted to get four new tires, while Young only took right side tires to save time. With 20 laps remaining, Shepherd had caught up with Young and was pressuring him to force a mistake. Shepherd was looking to the inside of the corners, but couldn’t match Young’s pace on corner exit. He tried to get ahead by diving to the inside in each corner, but Young ran a more defensive line, staying lower on exit and blocking Shepherd’s momentum.

Shepherd seemed to be getting frustrated, throwing the car to the inside more aggressively as the laps quickly counted down. However, any tire advantage Shepherd may have had was disappearing with each failed pass attempt. The race was complicated by the fact that they caught up with lap traffic, making it even more challenging for Shepherd to overtake Young.

As they came out of the final corner, Young managed to hold onto his lead, taking the win by just 0.191 seconds at the line. The Bootleg Racing League will move to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 5th for round 6, with the action going live at 8:10PM ET exclusively on the Virtual Grip Network.

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