WHEATLAND, Mo. (May 25) — Earl Pearson Jr. had his hands full with Scott Bloomquist late in Thursday’s Cowboy Classic, but the 45-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., driver was able to hang on for his first Lucas Oil Speedway victory since 2009.
Pearson, a four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion, turned back Bloomquist after a late-race caution and took the checkers a half-second ahead of the reigning tour champion as the national tour kicked off the three-race 25th annual Lucas Oil Show-Me 100 weekend.
Sponsored for most of his career by Lucas Oil, Pearson’s $6,000 payday put him in position for an up-front starting position in Saturday’s $30,000-to-win main event at the national tour’s de facto home track.
“The speedway here is a just a beautiful place, and all the fans here,” said Pearson, whose previous victory at the 3/8-mile showplace came July 18, 2009. “Like I said, it’s been a long time coming, but we finally made it back.”
The polesitter Bloomquist, gunning for his second straight series victory, settled for second with three-time tour champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., making it three champs on the podium. Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., advanced six positions to finish fourth and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., rounded out the top five in the 45-lap main event.
Outside front-row starter Jesse Stovall of Billings, Mo., led 15 of the first 21 laps before slipping from contention and finally spinning with six laps remaining to bring out the race’s lone caution.
Pearson was all too aware of his closest pursuer as Bloomquist pulled alongside several times in the race’s late stages.
“Scott was all over me there at the end, and Jimmy I’m sure. We put a soft tire on the right-front and we couldn’t steer very good — early we was good, but then we were just battling there in lapped traffic,” Pearson said. “I knew Scott was coming. He could move all over the racetrack there, but (he’s a) good clean driver. He probably could’ve slide-job or done something there. But I like racing with him and Jimmy and all them guys.”
Pearson outdueled Stovall and Bloomquist throughout the race, keeping Bloomquist in check after the lap-39 yellow flag.
“I didn’t need to see that (caution). I knew Scott would be tough. I don’t know if I could’ve held him off there too much longer. He could rotate around that bottom pretty good,” Pearson said. “But I had to go in there and drift up to the top, because the right-front wasn’t turning very good there. But for Longhorn Chassis and all them guys, and Larry Wallace Racing Engines, we’ll take it.”
Bloomquist, debuting a Sweet-Bloomquist car his team completed this week at his Mooresburg, Tenn., shop, was battling steering issues, too, but he knew he had a chance after the stoppage with six laps remaining.
“Our front tires had kind of given up,” Bloomquist said. “Everybody went with the soft front tires, and ours kind of gave up a little bit and (the car) started pushing, and I thought ‘This might be what I need here to get caution and cool ‘em off.’ I was trying to run through the red dirt right here and get ‘em cool.
“We fired off there and ran a few good laps and got in position, and oh, if I could’ve just gotten a little bit higher on the racetrack. But he was in the preferred line. It was a good run. I think if I would’ve gotten a few more inches on him on the straightaway we might’ve (won).”
A tight-handling car prevented Owens from getting into the mix in the final laps.
“We had a pretty good car tonight, and we just was a little bit too snug,” the third-place finisher said. “When we’d get to the traffic, I’d have to bend my car a little bit, and I’d get behind those guys and want to push out just a little bit. I feel like we’re pretty close … we were maneuverable, just a little tight.”
Stovall took the lead from the outset with Pearson, Bloomquist, Owens and Darrell Lanigan giving chase with most drivers running the high groove. When Stovall dipped to the low groove amid traffic, Pearson took advantage by sticking with his high line and rolling into the lead on lap 15.
Stovall fought back a few laps later and turned up the heat on Pearson, regaining command on the 21st lap with an inside move exiting turn four before Pearson went back ahead.
Stovall ran into trouble on lap 25 when he made contact with the lapped car of Dennis Erb Jr., and Bloomquist took advantage a lap later to take the second spot from Stovall while Pearson maintained control out front.
Bloomquist drew within two-tenths of a second of Pearson in the final 10 laps, but the Floridian edged back away before the race’s lone caution flew on lap 39 for Stovall’s turn-four spin after another scuffle with Erb.
Bloomquist took his final shot after the yellow, but Pearson was able to hang on and notch his third career Lucas Oil Series victory at Wheatland. Besides his 2009 victory, Pearson also won July 21, 2007, at the Missouri oval.
Feature notes: Pearson’s best finish in the Show-Me 100 finale came with a runner-up performance to Don O’Neal in 2014. … Payton Looney of Republic, Mo., was the best-finishing home-state driver by one spot over Logan Martin of West Plains. … Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., started 13th and finished seventh. … Jason Rauen, who retired after 24 laps, was the only driver who retired early while Stovall slowed as the race concluded.
Preliminary results and notes:
Row 1: Scott Bloomquist, Jesse Stovall
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 3: Payton Looney, Jimmy Owens
Row 4: Mason Zeigler, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Steve Francis, Tim McCreadie
Row 6: Logan Martin, Dave Eckrich
Row 7: Bobby Pierce, Gregg Satterlee
Row 8: Jason Rauen, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 9: Billy Moyer Jr., Billy Moyer
Row 10: Chase Junghans, Chris Simpson
Row 11: Tim Manville, Rodney Sanders
Row 12: Don O’Neal, Tony Jackson Jr.
First B-main finish (15 laps; top 2 transfer): Chase Junghans, Rodney Sanders, Shannon Babb, B.J. Robinson, Evan Hubert, Chad Simpson, Hudson O’Neal, Jack Sullivan, Boom Briggs, Austin Rettig, Mason Oberkramer, Jeff Herzog, Justin Duty, Scott Crigler, Bryon Allison (DNS) Al Humphrey, Tanner Kellick.
Second B-main finish (15 laps; top 2 transfer): Chris Simpson, Don O’Neal, Brantlee Gotschall, Garrett Alberson, Will Vaught, Jonathan Davenport, Gavin Landers, Joey Moriarty, Tanner Mullens, Terry Phillips, Bob King, Jeremy Grady, J.C. Wyman, Cole Wells (DNS) Larry Jones, Mike Stadel.
Third B-main finish (15 laps; top 2 transfer): Tim Manville, Tony Jackson Jr., Jared Landers, Josh Richards, Randy Timms, Shannon Scott, Wendell Wallace, Jim Shereck, Timothy Culp, John Duty, Chandler Petty, Jonathan Rowan, Blonde Bomber Mitchell, Cliff Morrow, Jon Mitchell (DNS) Jake O’Neil.
(15 laps; top 2 transfer)
Row 1: Chase Junghans, Justin Duty
Row 2: Rodney Sanders, Jack Sullivan
Row 3: Shannon Babb, Hudson O’Neal
Row 4: Chad Simpson, Evan Hubert
Row 5: B.J. Robinson, Austin Rettig
Row 6: Mason Oberkramer, Bryon Allison
Row 7: Boom Briggs, Jeff Herzog
Row 8: Scott Crigler, Tanner Kellick
Row 9: Al Humphrey
Row 1: Brantlee Gotschall, Chris Simpson
Row 2: Gavin Landers, Don O’Neal
Row 3: Garrett Alberson, Joey Moriarty
Row 4: Will Vaught, J.C. Wyman
Row 5: Tanner Mullens, Jonathan Davenport
Row 6: Mike Stadel, Terry Phillips
Row 7: Larry Jones, Jeremy Grady
Row 8: Cole Wells, Bob King
Row 1: Tim Manville, Shannon Scott
Row 2: Tony Jackson Jr., Jared Landers
Row 3: Timothy Culp, Randy Timms
Row 4: Josh Richards, Jake O’Neil
Row 5: Jim Shereck, Wendell Wallace
Row 6: Chandler Petty, Jonathan Rowan
Row 7: John Duty, Cliff Morrow
Row 8: Blond Bomber Mitchell, Jon Mitchell
Defending Show-Me 100 champion Jimmy Owens cruised to a runaway victory, beating Dave Eckrich by a commanding margin of 4.180 seconds. Billy Moyer claimed the third and final transfer spot. A caution flag flew on lap two when Jon Mitchell twirled between turns three and four while battling for fourth with Shannon Scott.
Finish: Jimmy Owens, Dave Eckrich, Billy Moyer, Shannon Scott, Jared Landers, Randy Timms, Jake O’Neil, Wendell Wallace, Jonathan Rowan, Cliff Morrow, Jon Mitchell.
Earl Pearson Jr. dominated the action, racing unchallenged to a near-straightaway win over Tim McCreadie. Dennis Erb Jr. kept fellow Illinois driver Tim Manville at bay to place third.
Finish: Earl Pearson Jr., Tim McCreadie, Dennis Erb Jr., Tim Manville, Tony Jackson Jr., Timothy Culp, Josh Richards, Jim Shereck, Chandler Petty, John Duty, Blomb Bomber Mitchell.
Jesse Stovall led from flag-to-flag without facing a serious challenge, beating Mike Marlar by 1.709 seconds. First-time Wheatland entrant Gregg Satterlee finished third after passing Chris Simpson for the position on lap seven.
Finish: Jesse Stovall, Mike Marlar, Gregg Satterlee, Chris Simpson, Don O’Neal, Joey Moriarty, J.C. Wyman, Jonathan Davenport, Terry Phillips, Jeremy Grady, Bob King.
Payton Looney chugged smoothly along the inside lane to run way with the victory by 3.099 seconds over Logan Martin, who turned back repeated challenges from Billy Moyer Jr. to place second. A caution flag slowed the prelim on lap one when Mike Stadel spun in turn four and was hit by Larry Jones, taking the nosepiece off Stadel’s car.
Finish: Payton Looney, Logan Martin, Billy Moyer Jr., Brantlee Gotschall, Gavin Landers, Garrett Alberson, Will Vaught, Tanner Mullens, Mike Stadel, Larry Jones.
Darrell Lanigan overtook Steve Francis with an outside surge off turn two on lap six and never looked back. Francis settled for second place — a full straightaway behind Lanigan — and Jason Rauen outdueled Oregon’s Justin Duty for the final transfer spot.
Finish: Darrell Lanigan, Steve Francis, Jason Rauen, Justin Duty, Jack Sullivan, Hudson O’Neal, Evan Hubert, Austin Rettig, Bryon Allison, Jeff Herzog (DNS) Al Humphrey.
Scott Bloomquist pulled a crossover move to the inside of Mason Zeigler off turn four to assume command on lap eight and marched on to win by 1.014 seconds. Bobby Pierce quickly advanced from the fifth spot to third and finished there.
Finish: Scott Bloomquist, Mason Zeigler, Bobby Pierce, Chase Junghans, Rodney Sanders, Shannon Babb, Chad Simpson, B.J. Robinson, Mason Oberkramer, Boom Briggs, Scott Crigler.
Mason Zeigler of Chalk Hill, Pa., got off to a fast start in his first-ever appearance at Lucas Oil Speedway, turning a lap of 15.951 seconds to earn overall fast-time honors for the Cowboy Classic. He will start from the pole in the evening’s first heat.
Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., was the quickest qualifier in Group 2, earning the pole for the fourth heat.
Scott Bloomquist only ran one lap at the end of the first group because his car weighed in light at the scales before heading out on the track. He timed fourth-fastest but Lucas Oil officials initially announced that he would start fourth in his heat race because his penalty for the weight infraction left him ineligible to take the green flag in a transfer spot (top three). However, after officials found problems with the scales as cars weighed in for the second group, Bloomquist’s penalty was dropped and he will start second in the evening’s first heat.
Drivers who failed to log a qualifying lap were Tanner Kellick, whose car showed smoke during hot laps, and Cole Wells, who slowed and limped to the pit area during time trials.
After starting at 7:55 p.m. CT, time trials stretched for over 50 minutes due to a delay between the two groups while officials worked on the scales and another slowdown at the start of Group 2 due to an electronic scoring problem.
Opening night of the 25th annual Show-Me 100 weekend has produced absolutely perfect weather conditions. A total of 67 cars — up 10 from last year’s event turnout — were rolled through technical inspection under brilliant blue skies with temperatures in the mid-70s. … The warm weather is welcome to the Lucas Oil Series travelers who have experienced plenty of dreary, cool days throughout a road trip that began last Thursday in La Salle, Ill. “This is the first day I haven’t had a sweatshirt on in a week,” said rookie tour regular Boom Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa., who is making his first-ever visit to Wheatland. … First-time Lucas Oil Series follower Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., is making his first appearance at Wheatland since he finished seventh in the May 2008 Diamond Nationals. … Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., is confident he’ll be able to race this weekend with no ill effects from the scary incident he experienced early in Tuesday night’s Lucas Oil event at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb. He was hit in the front of his helmet by what he believes was a chunk of track surface and was so stunned that he immediately pulled his car up lame and instinctively climbed out of the cockpit; though he didn’t lose consciousness, he was clearly dazed from the blow and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where tests found that he suffered no serious brain injury. … Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, who escaped injury in a wild feature flip at I-80, will debut a new Longhorn Race Car tonight to replace his crashed machine. … Jared Landers of Batesville, Ark., who won a Show-Me 100 preliminary feature last year, is making just his third start of 2017 — and first since the April 7-8 Bad Boy 98 at his hometown Batesville Motor Speedway — in a David Peterson-owned car. He’s a teammate of Shreveport, La.’s B.J. Robinson. … Will Vaught of Crane, Mo., who captured an MLRA feature at Wheatland on April 14, is trying to take a more laid-back approach to this year’s Show-Me 100. “Sometimes I get too hyped up for this race,” Vaught said, no doubt recalling how his hit the wall during qualifying on Thursday night one year ago. … In four previous years with a preliminary feature leading up to the Show-Me 100, Thursday’s winner has gone on to finish among the 100-lapper’s top five in every year. The same is true in reverse, with the eventual Show-Me 100 winner finishing among the top five on Thursday in all four years. On two occasions — Jonathan Davenport in 2015 and Jimmy Owens in ’13 — a driver has parlayed a Thursday preliminary victory into another win in the Show-Me 100 finale.
The 25th annual Show-Me 100 presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Lucas Oil Speedway commences Thursday night with the 45-lap Cowboy Classic presented by Hot Rod Processing, a full racing program co-sanctioned by the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association. It’s the fifth straight year for the Thursday event, which serves as a memorial to late MLRA co-owner Allen “Cowboy” Chancellor, who died in April 2014.
Thursday night’s action will be followed by another identical 40-lap, $6,000-to-win card on Friday evening that is billed as a Tribute to Don and Billie Gibson, the founders of the Show-Me 100 in 1993 at West Plains Motor Speedway. This is the second straight year that two full preliminary programs will lead off the Show-Me 100 weekend.
Drivers will earn points for the A-Main and B-Main finishes (and qualifying group fast-timers will earn 10 bonus points) in the two preliminary shows. The top 18 in the combined points after the two prelim programs will lock into Saturday night’s $30,000-to-win Show-Me 100 headliner while the remainder will move to three B-Mains on Saturday.
The Thursday and Friday programs will follow the same format as regular Lucas Oil Series events with drivers split into two groups for time trials.
Tonight’s drivers’ meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. Hot laps are scheduled for 7 p.m. with time trials kicking off the competitive portion of the show immediately after.
Heat race lineups
(10 laps; top 3 transfer)
Row 1: Mason Zeigler, Scott Bloomquist
Row 2: Rodney Sanders, Shannon Babb
Row 3: Bobby Pierce, Chase Junghans
Row 4: B.J. Robinson, Chad Simpson
Row 5: Scott Crippler, Boom Briggs
Row 6: Mason Oberkramer, Tanner Kellick
Row 1: Justin Duty, Steve Francis
Row 2: Jason Rauen, Darrell Lanigan
Row 3: Jack Sullivan, Hudson O’Neal
Row 4: Evan Hubert, Austin Rettig
Row 5: Al Humphrey, Jeff Herzog
Row 6: Bryon Allison
Row 1: Payton Looney, Brantlee Gotschall
Row 2: Logan Martin, Mike Stadel
Row 3: Billy Moyer Jr., Gavin Landers
Row 4: Garrett Alberson, Tanner Mullens
Row 5: Larry Jones, Will Vaught
Row 6: Cole Wells
Row 1: Mike Marlar, Jesse Stovall
Row 2: Chris Simpson, Gregg Satterlee
Row 3: Jeremy Grady, Joey Moriarty
Row 4: Jonathan Davenport, Don O’Neal
Row 5: Terry Phillips, J.C. Wyman
Row 6: Bob King
Row 1: Tim McCreadie, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 2: Dennis Erb Jr., Tim Manville
Row 3: Timothy Culp, Jim Shereck
Row 4: Tony Jackson Jr., John Duty
Row 5: Chandler Petty, Josh Richards
Row 6: Blond Bomber Mitchell
Row 1: Jimmy Owens, Dave Eckrich
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Wendell Wallace
Row 3: Shannon Scott, Jon Mitchell
Row 4: Randy Timms, Jonathan Rowan
Row 5: Jake O’Neil, Jared Landers
Row 6: Cliff Morrow
Mason Zeigler (25z), Chalk Hill, Pa., 15.951
Justin Duty (15x), Portland, Ore., 15.983
Payton Looney (15P), Republic, Mo., 16.011
Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., 16.091
Steve Francis (15), Bowling Green, Ky., 16.093
Brantlee Gotschall (4G), Nevada, Mo., 16.153
Rodney Sanders (20), Happy, Texas, 16.207
Jason Rauen (98), Farley, Iowa, 16.213
Logan Martin (36), West Plains, Mo., 16.219
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 16.234
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 16.240
Mike Stadel (81), Rapid City, S.D., 16.251
Bobby Pierce (32), Oakwood, Ill., 16.345
Jack Sullivan (18), Greenbrier, Ark., 16.373
Billy Moyer Jr. (21jr), Batesville, Ark., 16.375
Chase Junghans (18c), Manhattan, Kan., 16.408
Hudson O'Neal (71), Martinsville, Ind., 16.413
Gavin Landers (77), Batesville, Ark., 16.428
B.J. Robinson (1b), Shreveport, La., 16.446
Evan Hubert (9), Cross Timbers, Mo., 16.526
Garrett Alberson (F5), Las Cruces, N.M., 16.592
Chad Simpson (25), Mt. Vernon, Iowa, 16.716
Austin Rettig (94), Sikeston, Mo., 16.730
Tanner Mullens (20T), Wichita, Kan., 16.776
Scott Crigler (12), Alton, Mo., 16.863
Al Humphrey (6H), Giltner, Neb., 16.865
Larry Jones (99J), El Dorado Springs, Mo., 16.915
Boom Briggs (99B), Bear Lake, Pa., 16.970
Jeff Herzog (11H), Herculaneum, Mo., 17.001
Will Vaught (1V), Crane, Mo., 17.081
Mason Oberkramer (93), Broseley, Mo., 17.118
Bryon Allison (1A), Marshall, Mo., 17.601
Tanner Kellick (3K), Mer Rouge, La., no time
Cole Wells (10w), Aurora, Mo., no time
Mike Marlar (157), Winfield, Tenn., 15.973
Tim McCreadie (39), Watertown, N.Y., 16.044
Jimmy Owens (20), Newport, Tenn., 16.08
Jesse Stovall (00), Billings, Mo., 16.095
Earl Pearson Jr. (1), Jacksonville, Fla., 16.105
Dave Eckrich (58), Oxford, Iowa, 16.223
Chris Simpson (32), Oxford, Iowa, 16.247
Dennis Erb Jr. (28e), Carpentersville, Ill., 16.286
Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., 16.306
Gregg Satterlee (22), Indiana, Pa., 16.338
Tim Manville (33), Highland, Ill., 16.358
Wendell Wallace (88), Batesville, Ark., 16.371
Jeremy Grady (43), Story City, Iowa, 16.465
Timothy Culp (c8), Prattsville, Ark., 16.472
Shannon Scott (4F), Henrietta, Okla., 16.500
Joey Moriarty (51M), Phoenix, Ariz., 16.509
Jim Shereck (17s), St. Charles, Mo., 16.58
Jon Mitchell (5M), Texarkana, Texas, 16.597
Jonathan Davenport (49), Blairsville, Ga., 16.601
Tony Jackson Jr. (56), Lebanon, Mo., 16.604
Randy Timms (5T), Wheatland, Okla., 16.606
Don O'Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 16.631
John Duty (5d), Portland, Ore., 16.718
Jonathan Rowan (56R), Jackson, Tenn., 16.826
Terry Phillips (75), Springfield, Mo., 16.849
Chandler Petty (R5), Cabot, Ark., 16.878
Jake O'Neil (J0), Tucson, Ariz., 16.886
Josh Richards (1), Shinnston, W.Va., 17.054
J.C. Wyman (4W), Griswold, Iowa, 17.054
Jared Landers (777), Batesville, Ark., 17.134
Bob King (45), Independence, Mo., 17.415
Blonde Bomber Mitchell (B29), Pea Ridge, Ark., 18.013
Cliff Morrow (99c), Enid, Okla., 18.181
Thursday’s schedule of events
2:30 p.m.: Pits closed and cleared
3 p.m.: Pits reopen
4:30 p.m.: Grandstands closed and cleared
5 p.m.: Grandstands reopen
2-5:30 p.m.: Tech inspection (drivers must have their cars cleared through tech building by 5:30 p.m.)
6:30 p.m.: Drivers’ meeting
7 p.m.: Hot laps, followed by qualifying and racing
Thursday’s order of events (tentative):
• Late Model hot laps
• USRA Modified hot laps
• Late Model qualifying
• USRA Modified heats (8 laps)
• Late Model heats (10 laps)
• USRA Modified B-mains (12 laps)
• Late Model B-mains (15 laps)
• Intermission/track prep (if necessary
• Late Model Cowboy Classic A-main (45 laps)
• USRA Modified A-main (20 laps)