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Virginia Motor Speedway

Pearson sets fast time, captures VMS heat race

April 16, 2010, 10:28 pm
By Kevin Kovac
World of Outlaws Late Model Series
Roland Mann rolled in an accident; he wasn't hurt. (pbase.com/cyberslash)
Roland Mann rolled in an accident; he wasn't hurt. (pbase.com/cyberslash)

JAMAICA, Va. (April 16) — Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., was perfect on Friday night at Virginia Motor Speedway, setting fast time and winning a heat race to open the inaugural Commonwealth 100 weekend.

A banner field of 56 cars assembled for the blockbuster World of Outlaws Late Model Series event, which is highlighted by Saturday night's 100-lapper that carries a $25,000 top prize from a total purse approaching $125,000. | Preliminary slideshow

Pearson, 38, flexed his muscle on Bill Sawyer's pristine half-mile oval, putting himself in position to sweep the weekend if he can capture the Commonwealth 100. His lap of 17.197 seconds (104.669 mph) was nearly three-tenths second faster than runner-up Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and he led the first of six 15-lap heat races from start-to-finish. Driving the Bobby Labonte Motorsports MasterSbilt car, Pearson fended off several challenges from Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., to cop the preliminary. He will go for his third career win at VMS on Saturday night, but first in WoO competition.

Also winning heat races were Lanigan, WoO points leader Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Chris Madden of Gaffney, S.C., Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., and Rick Eckert of York, Pa. They will join Pearson on Saturday night in a redraw for the top six starting positions in the Commonwealth 100.

Madden, who won last year's 50-lap WoO event at VMS, scored the most hard-fought victory of the evening. He dueled for the lead with defending WoO champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., for nearly half the distance before finally muscling in front on lap 10.

Covert, meanwhile, was the night's most fortunate racer, escaping an opening-lap tangle that damaged his car's right-rear corner to win the fifth heat over two-time World 100 champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn. Covert has never won a WoO event but has finished as high as fourth in a tour event at VMS.

The evening's most significant incident occurred on the second lap of the fourth heat after 2008 WoO Rookie of the Year Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., got sideways off turn two, collecting Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., 2009 WoO Rookie of the Year Russ King of Bristolville, Ohio, and Roland Mann of Chaptico, Md. Mann's car executed a slow rollover after hitting King, but Mann — and all other drivers involved — escaped the crash uninjured.

Two consolation races, the 30-lap Rumble on the River non-qualifiers' race (paying $3,000 to win) and the Commonwealth 100 make Saturday's program.

Competitor gates will open at 3 p.m. and spectator gates will be unlocked at 4 p.m. There will be a BB&T-sponsored autograph session with the WoO drivers from 5-6 p.m., and on-track activities will begin at about 6:30 p.m. with hot laps. Sunday is the raindate. Saturday-only general admission is $40 (adults) and $15 (children 7-12).

Time trials

Pos. Driver (car no.) , hometown, time
1. Earl Pearson Jr., (44) Jacksonville, Fla., 17.197
2. Darrell Lanigan, (29) Union, Ky., 17.433
3. Tim McCreadie, (39) Watertown, N.Y., 17.448
4. Josh Richards, (1) Shinnston, W.Va., 17.457
5. Jason Covert, (43a) York Haven, Pa., 17.498
6. Rick Eckert, (24) York, Pa., 17.532
7. Jonathan Davenport, (49) Blairsville, Ga., 17.576
8. Steve Shaver, (6) Vienna, W.Va., 17.577
9. Bub McCool, (57j) Vicksburg, Miss., 17.601
10. Dan Schlieper, (9) Sullivan, Wis., 17.616
11. Brent Robinson, (3) Smithfield, Va., 17.645
12. Brian Birkhofer, (15B) Muscatine, Iowa, 17.654
13. Jamie Lathroum, (6) Mechanicsville, Md., 17.674
14. Jimmy Mars, (28) Menomonie, Wis., 17.676
15. Darryl Hills, (7) Great Mills, Md., 17.701
16. Chris Madden, (44) Gaffney, S.C., 17.736
17. Jimmy Owens, (20) Newport, Tenn., 17.738
18. Chub Frank, (1*) Bear Lake, Pa., 17.752
19. Austin Hubbard, (19) Seaford, Del., 17.786
20. Steve Francis, (15) Ashland, Ky., 17.801
21. Brad Neat, (41) Dunnville, Ky., 17.808
22. Vic Coffey, (32c) Caledonia, N.Y., 17.811
23. Shane Clanton, (25) Locust Grove, Ga., 17.840
24. Brady Smith, (2) Solon Springs, Wis., 17.844
25. Tim Fuller, (19) Watertown, N.Y., 17.858
26. Clint Smith, (44) Senoia, Ga., 17.861
27. Chuck Harper, (00H) Beverly, W.Va., 17.932
28. Gregg Satterlee, (22) Rochester Mills, Pa., 17.966
29. Ronnie DeHaven Jr., (19D) Winchester, Va., 17.979
30. Jeremy Miller, (1) Gettysburg, Pa., 18.010
31. Dale McDowell, (17m) Rossville, Ga., 18.021
32. Dan Stone, (21D) Thompson, Pa., 18.025
33. John Blankenship, (23) Williamson, W.Va., 18.035
34. Roland Mann, (55) Chaptico, Md., 18.066
35. David Zona, (99z) Montrose, Pa., 18.109
36. Mark Pettyjohn, (8m) Milton, Del., 18.116
37. Walker Arthur, (87) Odenton, Md., 18.135
38. David Williams, (24w) Charlotte Hall, Md., 18.168
39. D.J. Myers, (70j) Greencastle, Pa., 18.191
40. Dean Bowen, (14) Whiteville, N.C., 18.234
41. Mark Byram, (45) Georgetown, Del., 18.251
42. Dale Hollidge, (0) Mechanicsville, Md., 18.259
43. David Taylor, (14) Fayetteville, NC 18.307
44. Jimmy Bernheisel, (119) Lebanon, Pa., 18.312
45. Stephen Evans, (92) Tyner, N.C., 18.419
46. Jill George, (22) Cedar Falls, Iowa, 18.528
47. Chris Ferguson, (22) Mt. Holly, N.C., 18.620
48. Mason Zeigler, (25z) Chalk Hill, Pa., 18.658
49. Bryan Bernheisel, (119B) Lebanon, Pa., 18.743
50. Jeff Pilkerton, (8) Loveville, Md., 18.787
51. Ross Robinson, (7) Georgetown, Del., 18.861
52. Russell King, (56) Bristolville, Ohio, 18.882
53. Mason Price, (8H) Roanoke Rapids, N.C., 20.285
54. Dustin Mitchell, (D8) Princeton, N.C., no time
55. Ricky Elliott, (88) Seaford, Del, no time

56. Gary Stuhler, (7) Greencastle, Pa., disqualified (light at scales)

Heat results

(15 laps; top three transfer)

First heat: Pearson, Davenport, McDowell, Lathroum, Hubbard, Fuller, Arthur, B. Bernheisel, Taylor. Scratched: Elliott.

Second heat: Lanigan, Shaver, Francis, C. Smith, Mars, J. Bernheisel, Stone, Stuhler, Williams, Pilkerton.

Third heat: McCreadie, McCool, Neat, Hills, Myers, Harper, Evans, R. Robinson, Blankenship.

Fourth heat: Madden, Richards, Schlieper, Coffey, Bowen, George, Satterlee, King, Mann.

Fifth heat: Covert, Owens, B. Robinson, Clanton, Zona, Byram, Price, Ferguson. Scratched: DeHaven.

Sixth heat: Eckert, Birkhofer, B. Smith, Frank, Miller, Hollidge, Mitchell, Zeigler. Scratched: M. Pettyjohn.

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