Portsmouth Raceway Park
Back-to-back Pearson grabs Portsmouth victory
By James EssexLucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (July 4) — Four-time series champion Earl Pearson Jr. led all but two laps Sunday at Portsmouth Raceway Park to capture the Independence 50 in front of a huge Fourth of July crowd. The polesitting Pearson, who won Saturday at Muskingum County Speedway, captured back-to-back Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events for the first time in his career. | Slideshow | Video
Outside front-row starter Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., led the first two laps, but Pearson took command on lap three and led the rest of the way, topping series points leader Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and 10th-starting Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C.
“We started up there with Eddie Carrier Jr. and I knew when they watered the top of the track he was going to be tough, but we had a real good race for the lead there early on,” said the 38-year-old driver from Jacksonville, Fla., who notched his fifth series victory of the season and 22nd of his career. “I saw (Bloomquist) up there on the scoreboard and Ray Cook there in third, so I knew I was in a for a tough race there, but the cautions helped us a few times when it cleared some lapped traffic that was in front of us. The car restarted well and we were able to hold them guys off.”
Bloomquist and Cook were followed across the finish line by West Virginia drivers Steve Shaver of Vienna and John Blankenship of Williamson. Carrier got shuffled out of contention on a restart and dropped out in the final laps.
Pearson and Carrier battled side-by-side the first few laps with Pearson forging ahead on the third lap, then pulling away from Carrier and Bloomquist. Pearson’s lead shrank amid traffic, then a lap-15 caution for Steve Casebolt bunched the field and gave Pearson clear racetrack.
After a lap-21 caution for Eric Wells, Carrier fell out of the hunt while Bloomquist and Cook held the second and third spots. At the halfway mark, Pearson was in control while Bloomquist and Cook dueled for second.
With traffic developing in front of Pearson, his pursuers pulled within a few lengths before the third caution appeared on lap 42 for defending track champion Kenny Christy. Pearson edged away on that restart, then again on a lap-46 restart following Donnie Moran’s spin to complete his victory.
Notes: Pearson’s Bobby Labonte Motorsports MasterSbilt Dodge has a Larry Wallace Racing Engine and sponsorship from Lucas Oil Products, Red Buck Cigars, PRC, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tires, Asi Racewear and Ohlins Shocks. ... Pearson dedicated the victory to teammate Brad Neat, who flipped his car in time trials; the car was heavily damaged but Neat wasn’t seriously injured. ... Pearson is tied with Bloomquist atop the series chart for career victories at 22. ... Pearson’s five 2010 victories matches Bloomquist and Jimmy Owens, who finished sixth. ... Among drivers failing to make the feature: Wayne Chinn, Mark Frazier, Rod Conley, Paul Davis, Brandon Fouts, D.J. Wells, Delmas Conley, Dustin Linville, Shannon Thornsberry, Brad Neat and fast qualifier Tim Dohm. ... Next up for the Lucas Oil Series is the $20,000-to-win Clash at the Mag on July 9-10 at Magnolia Motor Speedway near Columbus, Miss.
Independence 50: (1) Earl Pearson Jr., (2) Scott Bloomquist, (3) Ray Cook, (4) Steve Shaver, (5) John Blankenship, (6) Jimmy Owens, (7) Jackie Boggs, (8) Jason Covert, (9) Don O’Neal, (10) Dale McDowell, (11) Matt Miller, (12) Chris Wall, (13) Eric Wells, (14) Tim Isenberg, (15) Dan Schlieper, (16) Steve Casebolt, (17) Terry Hicks, (18) Tyler Reddick, (19) Eddie Carrier Jr., (20) Donnie Moran, (21) Zack Dohm, (22) R.J. Conley, (23) Ben Adkins, (24) Kenny Christy, (25) Josh McGuire, (26) Steve Francis. Fast qualifier (among 53 cars): Tim Dohm, 14.742 seconds. Heat race winners: Pearson, Covert, Carrier, Bloomquist. Consolation winners: Francis, Isenberg.