Pearson Collects Lucas LM Honors
RURAL RETREAT, Va. — Four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion Earl Pearson Jr. passed race leader John Blankenship on the white-flag lap to win the Blue Ridge 50 on Saturday night at Wythe Raceway.
Pearson pulled away on the final circuit for his second LOLMDS win of the year and the 26th of his career.
Blankenship, the winner a year ago at Wythe came home second followed by Steve Shaver, Jared Landers, and Steve Francis.
“I have to thank all the fans for coming out here tonight at Wythe, this place is packed! I had a second-place car, I didn’t think I could pass John (Blankenship), I just took a different line after the caution and found enough moisture, and I just went for it,” said the driver of the Bobby Labonte Racing, Longhorn Chevrolet.
The frantic last eight laps of the race was set-up when sixth-place running Don O’Neal slowed with a flat tire. On the restart Blankenship was able to pull away from Pearson. It took Pearson just a few laps to rebound his momentum as he drove his car harder into the turns.
“I don’ know what happened to Davenport there. He was leading and then he slowed, he was probably the car to beat tonight, we are glad that Terry Labonte was here tonight to see, we finished first and third in these Longhorns, so all the work that Kevin Rumley has done on these cars is really paying off.”
Davenport held the lead for the first 19 laps of the race when he suddenly slowed coming off of turn two. His car came to a stop in turn four and had to be pushed back to the pit area.
Blankenship, who had a sterling run a year ago in winning at Wythe, looked like he was going to take the victory two years in a row.
“I didn’t even know he (Pearson) was there, he came out of no where, the car took off really well after that last caution and I just tried to hit my marks lap after lap, but obviously it wasn’t good enough. Congrats to him on the win, we gained some more points tonight on Jimmy (Owens),” said the driver of the Coal World’s Energy Rocket Chevrolet.
Earl Pearson Jr., John Blankenship, Steve Shaver, Jared Landers, Steve Francis, Eddie Carrier Jr., Chris Ferguson, Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb Jr., Ty Dillon, Ricky Weeks, Jerry Lierly, Don O’Neal, Billy Moyer Jr., Craig Vosbergen, Casey Roberts, Kenie Compton, Jonathan Davenport, Dale McDowell, Daniel Baggerly, Justin Labonte.