ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 8) — Taking the lead for good on lap 17, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., outran Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., to win Friday night’s first 25-lap preliminary feature during Dream XXIV.
Pearson watched race leaders Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., and Davenport fired sliders back and forth before joining the fray himself just beyond the halfway mark. Sliding from third to first as he dove into turn three, Pearson blew by O’Neal and grabbed the lead from Davenport. He then paced the field the remaining distance for a $10,000 victory.
Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., rallied from 17th to finish third, while O’Neal slipped to fourth after leading the first 13 laps. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., completed the top five in a race that ended just after 2 a.m. EST after the evening program was delayed nearly four hours by pesky rain storms working their way across western Ohio.
“I know it’s late, but I’m sure them fans just seen one hell of a race,” said Pearson. “Don (O’Neal) and Jonathan (Davenport) were battling it out up there and they got bottled up in turn two. I just got a run and went in there and slid them. Me and Jonathan traded positions there a couple times. But we drove each other clean. I’m sure these fans will see one heck of a show tomorrow.”
After finishing second to Davenport in a preliminary makeup feature on Friday afternoon after Davenport swept into the lead on the opening lap, O’Neal, the polesitter, made sure Davenport didn’t lead the first lap of the first feature of Friday’s second session.
The 2011 Dream winner pulled ahead of Davenport on the opening circuit and began to ease away. The race was slowed by two cautions before lap 10, but each time O’Neal was able to pull away on the restart. Davenport, the 2015 Dream winner, finally reeled in the leader as the drivers approached the halfway mark. He slid ahead as they exited off turn four, but O’Neal countered to go back ahead.
Davenport finally wrestled the lead away on lap 14, but O’Neal again answered. Contact between the two in turns one and two pinched Davenport up the track, while forcing O’Neal into the outside fence on the back straight and allowed the third-running Pearson to close the gap.
“I caught Don and we starting sliding each other back and forth," said Davenport. "That last time I guess he thought he had me cleared and I thought he was gonna let me go so at the last second I backed off and just barely caught his quarterpanel. I hate it for him. He had a really good car too. And then I didn’t know Earl has closed back up on us like that. I made a mistake going in (turn) three. I went back to the top where I should have slid in through the bottom and kinda cut that corner off.”
With a huge run down the backstretch, Pearson dove under O’Neal entering turn three and slid ahead of Davenport. Pearson and Davenport then traded sliders again before Pearson finally took the lead for good. Afterwards, a pumped up Pearson was already looking ahead to Saturday. He finished the day tied with Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., at the top of the point standings that are used to set the lineups for Saturday’s eight heat races.
“It was a good points night for us,” Pearson said. “All day was good for us. I can’t say enough for the guys. It’s a dream come true to be up on this stage here at Eldora. I’m sure it’s about 2:30 in the morning, but we’re ready to get after it.”
Bloomquist missing from action
Scott Bloomquist didn’t participate in Friday night's hot laps. Then he never appeared in line for his spot late in time trials.
When Bloomquist’s crew loaded up his machine and closed the door of the team’s trailer by the end of qualifying, it was clear the Hall of Fame driver wasn’t competing in the evening’s program after finishing third in his afternoon feature. He wasn’t around in the pits, however, to explain his absence nor did his crew shed light on the situation.
Speculation immediately ran wild about Bloomquist's status — not surprising considering his high profile that always makes him the center of attention (and especially at Eldora) — but the only immediate information was provided by his longtime sponsor Gerald Newton of Arizona Sport Shirts. Around midnight Newton provided an official statement on Bloomquist’s behalf, saying that Bloomquist had called him from the emergency room of the nearby hospital in Greenville, Ohio, where he had gone after he “fell on slick rig steps on his left side” and injured his left rotator cuff. According to Newton, Bloomquist was still being treated in the ER as of 11:48 p.m. and “should be released to possibly race Saturday.”
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Don O'Neal
Row 2: Jon Henry, Frank Frankenhast Jr.
Row 3: Ryan King, Jason Feger
Row 4: Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 5: Shanon Buckingham, Jason Jameson
Row 6: Kyle Bronson, Kody Evans
Row 7: Chris Simpson, Tim McCreadie
Row 8: Billy Moyer, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 9: Dale McDowell, Tim Manville
Row 10: Freddie Carpenter, Michael Chilton
Row 11: Shannon Babb, Joey Moriarty
Row 12: Duane Chamberlain, Austin Smith
Fourth-starting Shannon Babb jumped to an early lead and pulled away to win the consolation race ahead of Joey Moriarty. Babb won easily, finishing 1.583 seconds ahead following a two-lap shootout after a late caution for Jonathan Rowen, who blew a right rear tire. Duane Chamberlain finished third, while Austin Smith grabbed the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Shannon Babb, Joey Moriarty, Duane Chamberlain, Austin Smith, Adam Bowman, Nick Hoffman, Rob Anderzack, Jerry Bowersock, Colton FLinner, Mason Zeigler, Nick Latham, Shad Badder, Ben Nicastri, Aaron Ridley, Casey Noonan, Kent Robinson, Jonathan Rowen, Bryant Dickinson. Scratched: Scott Bloomquist.
(12 laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Austin Smith, Joey Moriarty
Row 2: Colton Flinner, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Shad Badder, Aaron Ridley
Row 4: Duane Chamberlain, Mason Zeigler
Row 5: Bryant Dickinson, Jerry Bowersock
Row 6: Jonathan Rowen, Adam Bowman
Row 7: Rob Anderzack, Casey Noonan
Row 8: Nick Latham, Nick Hoffman
Row 9: Kent Robinson, Ben Nicastri
Row 10: Scott Bloomquist
Second-starting Frank Heckenast Jr., of Frankfort, Ill., finally nosed ahead of polesitter Dennis Erb Jr., on the second lap to grab the lead. He then turned back a furious charge from Erb with two laps remaining to win the heat. Erb pulled even with the leader in turn four, but couldn’t complete the pass and settled for second, just .483 of a second behind. Kody Evans, Billy Moyer Jr. and Michael Chilton completed the top five.
Finish (top five transfer): Frank Heckenast Jr., Dennis Erb Jr., Kody Evans, Billy Moyer Jr., Michael Chilton, Shannon Babb, Mason Zeigler, Adam Bowman, Nick Hoffman.
Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., powered by polesitter Ryan King as the pair raced off of turn four to complete the first lap and drove away to win the caution-free third heat. Sticking to his preferred line around the outside, Feger raced to a comfortable victory, winning by 3.422 seconds ahead of King. Kyle Bronson ran third throughout the heat, while Hall of Famer Billy Moyer nipped Freddie Carpenter at the line for the fourth position. Scott Bloomqust, who didn’t complete a qualifying lap, scratched from the heat as well.
Finish (top five transfer): Jason Feger, Ryan King, Kyle Bronson, Billy Moyer, Freddie Carpenter, Colton Flinner, Duane Chamberlain, Jonathan Rowen, Nick Latham. Scratched: Scott Bloomquist.
Getting an excellent start from his pole position, Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, led every lap of the second heat. Henry pulled ahead of Jason Jameson early before finishing 1.150 seconds ahead of Earl Pearson Jr., who passed Jameson for the runner-up spot with two laps remaining. Jameson settled for third, with Tim McCreadie, who started second, finishing fourth. Tim Manville started and finished fifth.
Finish (top five transfer): Jon Henry, Earl Pearson Jr., Jason Jameson, Tim McCreadie, Tim Manville, Joey Moriarty, Aaron Ridley, Jerry Bowersock, Casey Noonan, Ben Nicastri.
After a couple of aborted starts, polesitter Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., got the jump on Chris Simpson, who was elevated to the front row when Dale McDowell was involved in an opening lap crash. O’Neal turned back late charges from Jonathan Davenport to win the first heat by a car length. Davenport, winner of a $5,000-to-win preliminary feature on Friday afternoon, finished second, while Shanon Buckingham was third. Simpson finished fourth and McDowell rallied from the back of the field to finished in the fifth and final transfer spot. A yellow flag waved on the opening lap when contact between polesitter O’Neal and McDowell collected overall fast qualifier Kent Robinson, ending Robinson’s night and resulting in a restart. Austin Smith brought out a caution when he spun to a stop on the front stretch. Simpson spun to avoid contact in turn four to bring out a caution on lap one.
Finish (top five transfer): Don O’Neal, Jonathan Davenport, Shanon Buckingham, Chris Simpson, Dale McDowell, Austin Smith, Shad Badder, Bryant Dickinson, Ron Anderzack, Kent Robinson.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top five transfer)
Row 1: Don O’Neal, Dale McDowell
Row 2: Jonathan Davenport, Kent Robinson
Row 3: Austin Smith, Chris Simpson
Row 4: Shanon Buckingham, Shad Badder
Row 5: Ron Anderzack, Bryant Dickerson
Row 1: Jon Henry, Tim McCreadie
Row 2: Jason Jameson, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Tim Manville, Aaron Ridley
Row 4: Joey Moriarty, Casey Noonan
Row 5: Jerry Bowersock, Ben Nicastri
Row 1: Ryan King, Jason Feger
Row 2: Freddie Carpenter, Kyle Bronson
Row 3: Jonathan Rowen, Billy Moyer
Row 4: Duane Chamberlain, Nick Latham
Row 5: Colton Flinner, Scott Bloomquist
Row 1: Dennis Erb Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 2: Kody Evans, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Adam Bowman, Billy Moyer Jr.
Row 4: Nick Hoffman, Michael Chilton
Row 5: Mason Zeigler
Cars began circling the half-mile oval to complete the drying and packing process following the rain shortly before 10:40 p.m. … Chris Madden was in no mood to talk immediately after the afternoon’s second 25-lap — no surprise, of course, because he was inconsolable after letting the $5,000 top prize slip through his fingers when he got into the cushion in turn one while leading on lap 21 and folded under the nose of his car. “I just can’t finish one here,” he told pit reporter Ben Shelton. “I gave that one away.” Madden has a new nose on his Barry Wright-built machine for the evening action. … Devin Moran and his crew were able to repair the heavy damage his new Tye Twarog-owned XR1 Rocket car sustained when he clipped a disabled lapped car and slammed the wall in his afternoon heat. The machine’s frame fortunately wasn’t bent, but it needed a new rearend, j-bar, driveshaft, shocks and other assorted items. … Michael Page parked the Troy Baird-owned No. 18 he ran this afternoon — a Stinger Chassis with just one race on it — because the new engine under its hood developed issues and the team didn’t want to risk bigger problems. He has switched to his backup car, which means he will have to start from the rear of a heat race. … Chris Simpson was hampered by the loss of brakes in his car halfway through his run to a 13th-place finish in the odd feature. … Brandon Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house car team had to fix the right-side bodywork on their machine after the World of Outlaws champion’s seventh-place finish in the even A-main. … Brandon Overton and Lance Elson loaded up after being involved in incidents during the afternoon program, ending their weekends early.
A tractor hit the track to begin reconditioning the surface at 9:49 p.m. and push trucks followed a few minutes later. Officials then called the first and second groups of cars to the staging area at 10:20 p.m., signaling that action would soon be getting underway.
Officials also announced that the qualifying format for the evening program would remain the same as in the afternoon with all drivers getting one lap on the clock.
After some brief, light rain fell around 6 p.m., storm cells approaching from the west led officials to put the start of the evening program on hold. Heavy showers began to fall just after 7:45 p.m. and as of 8:05 p.m. the racing card was officially under a rain delay.
If the rain ceases early enough to allow the track surface to be run in for competition, officials said they will decide if the format will feature one lap of qualifying; combined hot-lap/qualifying with five cars on the track at a time; or a pill draw to determine heat lineups.
Time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 15.265
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 15.432
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 15.475
Dustin Nobbe (5N), Batesville, Ind., 15.493
Kyle Bronson (40B), Brandon, Fla., 15.528
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.533
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 15.548
Chris Madden (44), Gray Court, S.C., 15.552
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 15.570
Jimmy Mars (28), Menomonie, Wis., 15.595
Jason Jameson (16), Lawrenceburg, Ind., 15.602
Hudson O’Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 15.613
Freddie Carpenter (K), Parkersburg, W.Va., 15.615
Devin Gilpin (1G), Columbus, Ind., 15.625
Kody Evans (4G), Camden, Ohio, 15.642
Michael Page (18), Douglasville, Ga., 15.651
Dale McDowell (17m), Chickamauga, Ga., 15.652
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 15.664
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 15.676
Shane Clanton (25), Zebulon, Ga., 15.690
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 15.736
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 15.737
Frank Heckenast Jr. (99jr), Frankfort, Ill., 15.747
Chase Junghans (18), Manhattan, Kan., 15.761
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 15.769
Ricky Weiss (7W), Headingley, Manitoba, 15.777
Jon Henry (15), Ada, Ohio, 15.780
Steven Roberts (111), Jesup, Ga., 15.804
Ryan King (1G), Seymour, Tenn., 15.818
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 15.823
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 15.827
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 15.830
Austin Smith (84), Cedartown, Ga., 15.840
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 15.855
Tim Manville (33), Highland, Ill., 15.859
Steve Casebolt (C9), Richmond, Ind., 15.861
Jonathan Rowan (56), Whiteville, Tenn., 15.862
Andy Haus (76), Hamburg, Pa., 15.863
Adam Bowman (77), Seymour, Ind., 15.870
Vic Hill (1), Mosheim, Tenn., 15.906
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 15.914
Brandon Sheppard (1), New Berlin, Ill., 15.926
Aaron Ridley (81), Chatsworth, Ga., 15.928
Rod Conley (71R), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 15.963
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 15.980
Devin Moran (9), Dresden, Ohio, 15.995
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.003
Jesse Lay (33), Walton, Ky., 16.007
Shanon Buckingham (50), Morristown, Tenn., 16.010
Matt Miller (3), Whitehouse, Ohio, 16.034
Joey Moriarty (51), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.036
Ryan Fenech (6F), New South Wales, Australia, 16.099
Duane Chamberlain (20c), Richmond, Ind., 16.102
Jeep Van Wormer (55), Pinconning, Mich., 16.119
Nick Hoffman (2), Mooresville, N.C., 16.123
Tyler Bruening (16), Decorah, Iowa, 16.166
Shad Badder (173), Oak Grove, Mo., 16.170
Joe Godsey (14G), Bentonville, Ark., 16.171
Casey Noonan (1N), Sylvania, Ohio, 16.195
Alex Ferree (4), Saxonburg, Pa., 16.196
Nick Latham (31), Winchester, Ohio, 16.244
Blake Spencer (6S), St. Augustine, Fla., 16.346
Michael Chilton (97), Salvisa, Ky., 16.355
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.401
Rob Anderzack (8a), Swanton, Ohio, 16.510
Timothy Culp (C8), Prattsville, Ark., 16.594
Jerry Bowersock (95j), Wapakoneta, Ohio, 16.683
Paul Stubber (31aus), Bunbury, Australia, 16.697
Colton Flinner (75), Allison Park, Pa., 16.706
Jeff Roth (14R), Bentonville, Ark., 16.707
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 16.726
Jackie Boggs (4B), Grayson, Ky., 16.969
Bryant Dickinson (5*), Ionia, Mich., 17.509
Ernie Cordier (4c), Brodhead, Ky., 18.013
Ben Nicastri (99), Sydney, Australia, no time
Lance Elson (17), Wellsburg, W.Va., no time
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., no time
Brandon Overton (116), Evans, Ga., no time