- July 4 - Portsmouth Raceway Park by Sam Holbrooks


Lucas Oil Series: Pearson Goes Back-to-Back in Ohio

James Essex

PORTSMOUTH, Oh. - July 4. Four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion, Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla. took home his 22nd career series win in grabbing the $10,000 to win "Independence 50" on Sunday at Portsmouth Raceway Park. Pearson took the lead from Eddie Carrier, Jr. on lap three and went on to his fifth series win of the year.

Pearson and Carrier, two second generation pilots, went toe-to-toe for the first two laps of the race, crossing the start-finish line dead even before Pearson was able to forge ahead on lap three. Scott Bloomquist was in the third slot, followed by Jason Covert, while 2009 series Rookie of the Year John Blankenship soon moved past Josh McGuire into the top five after starting eighth.

Up front, Pearson was starting to pick-up the tail end of the field by the 12th circuit, but first caution of the race came out for Steve Casebolt on lap 15. With 21 laps in the books, the second caution of the race flew for a slowing Eric Wells.

The next restart saw Pearson take off from Carrier and Bloomquist as Ray Cook was now in the hunt. He had moved from the tenth starting spot to fourth, just ahead of Blankenship. On the restart Carrier got shuffled back in the field and Bloomquist moved to second and brought Cook with him. At the halfway mark, Bloomquist and Cook were dicing it out for second.

Pearson then had his lead shrink in a hurry as lapped traffic began slowing his momentum. What was a good-sized lead was now down to two car lengths with ten laps to go as the Pearson, Cook, and Bloomquist stayed close together with no lapped cars between them.

The third caution for defending track champion, Kenny Christy halted the action on lap 42. With eight laps to go, it looked like it was going to be a three-car shootout to the finish, but Pearson was strong on the restarts, including one from a lap 46 caution for a 360 spin by Donnie Moran after contact from another car.

Shortly after the final restart, Carrier pulled off and headed to the pits, while Pearson led the field to the checkers and matched Bloomquist atop the all-time winner's list, at 22. He also completed a sweep of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Fourth of July Weekend in the state of Ohio after winning the night before at Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville.

A tired, but elated Pearson emerged from his car and with a few words of encouragement from his son, Trey, waved to the throng of fans on hand for the race.

"First off I want to dedicate this win to my teammate, Brad Neat," said Pearson. "He flipped in qualifying and took a pretty good ride. He's okay, but he had to go to a back-up car."

"What a way to celebrate the Fourth of July with this win and last night at Zanesville," said Pearson. "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, the car worked extremely well, the track was in good shape, I saw that zero car (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."

Pearson, who remains in third in the series championship points standings, drives for 2000 NASCAR Cup Champion, Bobby Labonte in a MasterSbilt Dodge Charger with a Larry Wallace Racing Engine, with sponsorship by Lucas Oil Products, Red Buck Cigars, PRC, Sunoco Race Fuels, Hoosier Racing Tires, Asi Racewear and Ohlins Shocks.

Lucas Oil "Independence 50" - Portsmouth Raceway Park
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 (prov.), 13) Eric Wells (prov.), 14) Tim Isenberg, 15) Dan Schlieper, 16) Steve Casebolt, 17) Terry Hicks, 18) Tyler Reddick (prov.), 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 (53 entries)
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Updated 11/17/10

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