Pearson Ends Lengthy Lucas LM Drought
GIBSONTON, Fla. — Earl Pearson Jr. rallied from a flat tire to win the $10,000 DART Winternationals finale for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at East Bay Raceway Park.
Pearson pitted on lap 37 after suffering a flat right-rear tire and restarted from the tail. He charged through the field, taking the lead from Don O’Neal on lap 52 and led the remainder of the race.
Driving for Bobby Labonte, Pearson took the Lucas Oil Products and MAVTV sponsored Longhorn Chassis Chevrolet to Lucas Oil Victory Lane for the first time since July of 2010 at Tri-City (IL) Speedway.
“It’s been a longtime, no doubt,” said the four-time series champion who was all smiles from ear-to-ear. “This deal with Kevin Rumley came together just a few months ago and we have come out of the box running much better! I have to thank Steve Shaver, he was my crew chief this week, and everybody at Lucas Oil and MAVTV for their support! It feels great to be back in victory lane!”
Pearson’s win was the third of his career at East Bay and his 25th on the LOLMDS tour. Scott Bloomquist wound up second followed by O’Neal, Jared Landers, and Steve Francis.
Bloomquist, who was one of the few cars not having to pit, got by O’Neal in the closing laps to take a podium finish in second.
“We ran the hardest tires we could; the track was actually pretty good,” he said. “It was black from top to bottom, but when you start getting some of that sand grit mixed in after a while, that’s why the tires started going away.”
O’Neal, with his third place finish, clinched the DART Winternationals Championship, worth $5,000.
“We are really proud to win the DART (Winternationals) championship,” he said. “As far as the race was concerned, we tried to conserve the tires the best we could, and I was just hanging on there at the end and I knew those guys that pitted were going to be hard to handle.”
In preliminary action, Vic Coffey set the overall Time (Group B) amongst the 36 entrants, with a lap of 14.417 seconds.
Earl Pearson Jr., Scott Bloomquist, Don O’Neal, Jared Landers, Steve Francis, Billy Moyer Jr., Donnie Moran, Jimmy Owens, Dennis Erb Jr., John Blankenship, Tyler Reddick, Bobby Pierce, Ricky Weiss, David Breazeale, Eddie Carrier Jr., Doug Drown, Vic Coffey, Jason McBride, Jerry Lierly, Chad Stapleton, Stormy Scott, Eric Jacobsen, Devin Moran, Justin Rattliff, Todd Frank, Austin Hubbard.