Pearson Reels In Late Lead For Muskingum Co. Lucas
ZANESVILLE, Oh. – July 3. Overhauling race leader Ray Cook with five laps remaining, Earl Pearson, Jr.
of Jacksonville, Fla. went on to record his fourth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win of the season on
Saturday at Muskingum County Speedway. Pearson, driving for NASCAR’s Bobby Labonte, took home
$10,000 after winning the “Budweiser 50”.
Polesitter Cook built a strong early lead while Scott
Bloomquist moved quickly from eighth to third to start a good battle for second with John Blankenship. Pearson was
running fourth, but the top three started to pull away from everyone.
While Cook was having trouble
negotiating lap 15 traffic,Bloomquist made the pass for second, climbing into the runner-up slot. Pearson then
started on his patented bottom-line attack to track down and pass Blankenship for third on lap 18.
Cook was still having trouble getting past track provisional Shane McLaughlin, allowing both Bloomquist and
Pearson to close the gap on him, but with 30 laps complete,
Cook still had almost a straightaway advantage over the last two series champions.
That changed with a caution for
Doug Drown on lap 31. With 19 laps to go, Pearson
jumped into second on the restart, followed by Bloomquist. Dodd became a threat as he moved to fourth after
starting tenth. With tight battles all over the track, all eyes were on the race for the lead
between Cook and Pearson, and the race for third between Bloomquist and Dodd.
Pearson tried the inside line
for several laps to get by Cook, but Cook thwarted Pearson every time. Pearson was finally able to clear Cook
for the lead on lap 45 to pull away to his 21st career win on the Lucas tour. Bloomquist,
meanwhile, was able to overtake Dodd with two laps to go to gain the third position at the finish.
In Lucas Oil Victory Lane, the
38-year-old second–generation racer was joined by his crew, his son Trey, and several fans joined in the
celebration. “I’ll tell you what, that was a lot of fun racing there with Ray Cook, we were
good when we unloaded today. Hat’s off to my crew. They continue to work their tails off on this car,” said the
“On the restart Bloomquist took
the bottom, which kind of surprised me, but we restarted really well and then we caught up to Ray and ran with
him side-by-side for several laps. We gave each other plenty of racing room out there, thanks to the track crew
here, the Moran family for giving us a good track to race on. I probably wouldn’t have caught Ray without the
yellow, Scott and I had a good race, but he was running my line and I couldn’t get by him, this is a nice
recovery from Beckley. That was my fault what happened when I spun out there with eight laps to go and to come
back here and run like we did.”
Pearson’s Bobby Labonte Racing
MasterSbilt Dodger Charger is powered by a Larry Wallace Racing Engine and sponsored by Lucas Oil Products, Red
Buck Cigars, PRC, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tires, Asi Racewear and Ohlins Shocks.
Lucas Oil Series - Muskingum Co. Speedway
1) Earl Pearson, Jr., 2) Ray Cook, 3) Scott Bloomquist, 4) Doug Dodd, 5) Don
O'Neal, 6) Bart Hartman, 7) Steve Shaver, 8) John Blankenship, 9) Jimmy Owens, 10) Steve Casebolt, 11)
Chris Wall, 12) Dale McDowell, 13) Eric Wells, 14) Zack Dohm (prov.), 15) Dan Schlieper, 16) Brad Neat,
17) Cody Parker, 18) Kyle Bates, 19) Tim Isenberg, 20) Donnie Moran, 21) Tyler Reddick, 22) Devin
Moran, 23) Jason Covert, 24) Shane McLoughlin (prov.), 25) Doug Drown (prov.)
Fast Time (35 entries): Ray Cook (16.435 secs.); Heat Races: Cook, Blankenship, Owens,
Pearson; B-Main Winners: Schlieper, Reddick (Rick Schwallie photo)