January 19th, 2016 by Chris Wolfson
Saturday night short-track racing returned for 2016 as the Bootleg Racing League rolled into Martinsville, Virginia and the Martinsville Speedway for the Outlaw 100. The series’ top sim racers were looking to kick-off the New Year in winning fashion. With the race length being increased to 100 laps for the 2016 season, tire wear and defensive driving becomes paramount for online racing success this year.
Starting order for the opening race of the season is determined by iRating and Matt Hoose started on the pole with last season’s champion Donny Moore starting on the outside of Row One.
Hoose and Moore broke out to an early lead with a scramble for the third position developing behind. Contact on lap 2 would turn Vern Bradley in the #14 and Brian Neff in the #60, but the race stayed green as the cars continued moving in the proper direction.
The race would go green for an extended run with Hoose continuing to pace the field in front. Ryan Nuss (#13) and Lowell Jewell (#55) were on the move sliding up to the second and third spots respectively. The caution flew for the first time on lap #31 as Ryan Edwards Kiss (#20) spun exiting Turn 2 while challenging for third position. Edwards-Kiss made heavy contact with the inside wall sending him to the pits for his one allotted fast repair.
The green flag waved on lap 36 with Hoose still out front, but the didn’t make it far as several cars got together in Turn 1 to bring-out the caution again. Tim Knott would get the worst of the altercation ending upside down on the straightaway.
The race resumed on lap 41 with action picking-up throughout the field as cars jockeyed for position closing in on the halfway point. Hoose continued to lead with Nuss comfortably in the second position ahead of Lowell Jewell and Donny Moore were battling hard for third. Nuss applied heavy pressure to Hoose as the race reached halfway before slapping the outside wall of the front straightaway.
The caution once again slowed the race on lap 46 as Ernie Brown (#8) made contact with Mike Holloway (#4) going into Turn 1. Cars scattered to avoid Holloway’s machine and everyone continued no worse for wear.
Hoose led the field to the green with 41 laps remaining as Nuss got shuffled to the outside allowing Lowell Jewell in the #55 to slide into the second spot. As the field thundered on with 25 laps to go, Christopher Hensley (#63) and Brian Neff (#60) were on the move and headed towards the front while, in contrast, defending champion Donny Moore began experiencing connection problems. As Moore tried to get his car off the track, he inadvertently touched the #8 of Ernie Brown bringing out the caution and restacking the field.
The race restarted with 18 laps remaining and Hoose, Jewell and Nuss occupying the top spots. Hensley and Neff sat in the fourth and fifth spots looking to advance to podium finishing positions. However, Nuss would make a critical mistake getting into a three-wide situation that resulted in him getting into the marbles and, ultimately, the wall. He collected the #14 of Vern Bradley in the bargain as the caution came out once again.
Matt Hoose and Lowell Jewell would get great restarts with 10 laps to go as Brian Neff slid into third place. Christopher Hensley sat in fourth spot looking for any opportunity to get around Neff. That chance came exiting Turn 4 with six laps remaining, and Hensley made the pass on Neff for third spot stick.
Not content with third, Hensley set his sights on the #55 of Lowell Jewell in second while Hoose continued to maintain a comfortable lead. Heading into Turn 3, Hensley made a move inside Jewell only to make contact and send him hard into the outside wall. The caution came out, ending the race and handing the win to Hoose with Hensley taking the runner-up spot ahead of Brian Neff.
Next week sees the Bootleg Racing League heading to Connecticut where the drivers will challenge Stafford Speedway using the world’s best racing game. Be sure to tune in on the Global SimRacing Channel on Saturday, June 23rd at 9:15PM EST.
Be sure to check out the Bootleg Racing League at www.bootlegracingleague.com