February 8th, 2016 by Chris Wolfson
The Bootleg Racing League made its debut at the high-banked Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina. The 4/10 mile oval opened its doors in 1993 and has seen a number of NASCAR stars step into the spotlight at its prestigious Thanksgiving Classic.
The 2016 Outlaw Modified Series season has been a shootout between Matt Hoose (#21) and Brian Neff (#60) for the top of the points lead. Hoose came into Southern National with two victories on the season and a narrow two point lead over Neff. Both started deep in the field after finishing one and two at Oxford Plains a week ago. Ryan Edwards-Kiss (#20) started the event from the pole with Tim Knott (#41) flanking him to the outside.
The caution flag would fly early and often with the first yellow appearing as the field headed into turn one for the first time. Tim Knott (#41) was looking for the inside line from his outside front row starting position and arrived at the same piece of real estate as John Holcomb (#69) starting on the inside of the second row. Contact between the two brought out the yellow flag.
The next caution flag looked to carry heavy points implications as point leader Matt Hoose was collected in a heavy crash on the front straightaway that left him on his roof. Hoose would collect his fast repair after a lengthy tow and return to the race several laps down.
The front straightaway wall continued to pick off the big names of the Bootleg Racing League as Phillip Temples (#19) was the next victim to hit the wall hard just a few laps later. The race would quickly resume and just as quickly slow again as Ernie Brown (#8) backed his car into the outside wall in turn two after contact with Richard Blake in the R&L Carriers #62 machine.
Brian Neff was the next contender bit by the caution bug after contact with John Holcomb sent the Winn-Dixie machine around to slow the field.
Points leader Matt Hoose benefited from the cautions and received the lucky-dog wave around each time, moving back onto the lead lap and into contention. Hoose and Neff found themselves on the tail end of the lead lap looking to find the front of the field. With only 35 laps completed, Ryan Edwards-Kiss continued to lead and began to stretch a slight lead over second place Ryan Nuss (#13). Edwards-Kiss pushed the lead to over 3.5s when the caution came out again at the half-way point when Lucas Stinziano (#57) spun off of turn four coming to rest along the inside wall on the front straight.
The race slowed again with 44 laps remaining when Vern Bradley (#14) and Donny Moore (#26) got together, collecting several other cars in the process.
Ryan Edwards-Kiss restarted the race on lap 64 with John Holcomb easing the #69 into the second position over Ryan Nuss. Neff also took advantage of Nuss moving the #60 into third with 33 laps to go. Seeming to loose his rhythm, Neff caught the outside wall on the back straightaway and spun into turn three after contact with Phillip Temples. On the restart, Neff slid under Holcomb to take the second spot before Holcomb spun after contact with Temples, triggering another caution flag.
The field reset for the final run to the checkered flag with Edwards-Kiss still on the point. Neff sat in the second position and points leader Hoose climbed back to the fourth position for the restart.
With 15 laps remaining, Neff applied heavy pressure to Edwards-Kiss making contact several times. Lowell Jewell (#55) sat in the third spot waiting for a mistake with Hoose following in fourth. The action was fast and furious as the laps ticked off.
With seven laps remaining, cars continued to slide all over the track on worn out tires. Hoose took advantage of Jewell’s contact with the outside wall to slip into the third position. This position would prove critical in the end as Hoose maintained a one point lead over Neff in the point standings. Edwards-Kiss did the best job of hanging on to his SK Modified down the stretch and secured his first win of the season ahead of Neff and Hoose. “That was a rough race for sure…” said Hoose after the race.
What began as a caution-slowed event, turned into one of the most exciting finishes of the year for the Outlaw Modified Series. Tires once again proved critical with the longer race length for the series in 2016. “Right there at the end, I just had no tires left,” said Brian Neff after the race. “It was really twitchy near the end. The car was just terrible” added Edwards-Kiss. Either way, the format is providing exciting finishes.
The Bootleggers head to sunny Florida and Five Flags Speedway next Saturday night. Be sure to tune in to the iRacing Live at 9:15PM EST to catch the Global SimRacing Channel‘s broadcast of all the action of the Bootleg Racing League. You can find the Bootleg Racing League at www.bootlegracingleague.com.