By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
ROSSBURG, OH – July 25, 2008 – Earl Pearson Jr. is still the only winner the World of Outlaws Late Model Series has ever known at Eldora Speedway.
The standout driver from Jacksonville, Fla., repeated his triumphant performance in last year’s inaugural tour event at NASCAR star Tony Stewart’s famed half-mile oval, rolling to a flag-to-flag victory in Friday night’s ‘Subway 50.’
This time, however, Pearson didn’t have to survive any last-lap challenges. He surged off the outside pole to assume command at the initial green flag and never looked back, turning back mid-race pressure from Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., and Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, en route to his fourth career WoO LMS checkered flag.
“Last year there were cars everywhere in this race and that slide job Shannon Babb gave me (on the final lap) was tough to handle,” said Pearson, who earned $10,150. “This year was just a good race for us. We started off strong and the car just came to me late in the race.”
Pearson, 36, drove his Bobby Labonte Enterprises/LifeLong Locks MasterSbilt car across the finish line 1.820 seconds ahead of Birkhofer, who started 12th and ran in the runner-up spot for the final 20 laps of a race that was taped by the SPEED television cameras. The event will be broadcast by the cable network on Sat., Aug. 23, at 4 p.m. ET.
Clanton finished third after making several bids for the lead near the halfway mark, while Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., and Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., completed the top five. Both Richards and Bloomquist started and finished in the same position.
The top-five finishers became eligible for the ‘Alltel Ohio Speedweek All-Star’ honor. A $10,000 top prize will go to the driver who receives the most votes in on-line polling that begins at AlltelAllStar.com after the final Alltel Ohio Speedweek event, on July 27 at Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa.
Pearson’s most worrisome moment came on lap 26, when Clanton, who started 11th but reached second place by the 19th circuit, used a slider to pull ahead in turn two. But a caution flag moments later for the slowing car driven by Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., negated the move and allowed Pearson to breathe a sigh of relief.
“Luckily the caution came out when Shane Clanton put a run on me,” conceded Pearson. “He was all the way ahead of me, and I don’t know if I would’ve ever got back by him.
“When that happened, I knew I had to go somewhere else and try something different. We started off good right up against the (outside) wall and then we moved down in the mid-part of the race, on the restart I got right back up against the wall and it handled good after that.”
With Pearson going with a harder UMP DIRTcar Hoosier tire compound choice than many of his rivals, the 24-lap green-flag stretch that closed the race was perfect for his setup. He was never threatened while handling lapped traffic with ease.
“Down in (turns) three and four it would just go around that top as pretty as you please,” Pearson said of his machine – the same car that his car owner Bobby Labonte drove in last month’s Old Spice Prelude to the Dream event at Eldora. “It was just a little bit rough on the cushion, but I could just hold it wide open and go.”
Birkhofer, 36, also stuck the nose of his Mars/Birkhofer mount under Pearson, but he couldn’t summon enough speed on the bottom to accomplish a winning pass.
“All I did was speed Earl up,” Birkhofer said of his bids for the lead. “He had more in that car than what he thought.
“I really couldn’t move up there to the top like I needed to. I don’t race the cushion very well, so I stayed on the bottom. I’m happy, though. I got a good feel for what we need here when we come back in September.”
Clanton, 32, saw his hopes effectively dashed when he clipped the backstretch wall on lap 30, ceding second to Birkhofer. The WoO LMS regular spent the remainder of the distance racing with the right-rear spoiler damaged on his RSD Enterprises Rocket and felt fortunate to hold off Richards for third.
“I was trying to run that fine line on the cushion,” said Clanton. “When you’re on that lip and it’s a foot from the wall, it’s a real fine line. I was just driving too hard and got over that lip and hit the wall. It tore the spoiler and tore the nose off.
“I don’t know if I could’ve got (Pearson), but think I could’ve stayed with him if I didn’t mess my car up.”
The 20-year-old Richards climbed as high as second in his Mark Richards Racing Enterprises Rocket early in the event, but he put himself in a hole from which he never recovered on a lap-13 restart.
“I should’ve picked the outside (lane) for that restart,” said Richards. “(Donnie) Moran got the jump on me and then a couple other guys put me back to fifth, so I had to drive so hard to catch back up.”
Bloomquist, 45, salvaged a fifth-place finish after a rock poked a hole in his self-built car’s radiator early in the A-Main.
“I had fluid shooting back in my face for almost the whole race,” said Bloomquist, who slipped backward at the start but ran fifth from lap 28 to the finish. “I used up all my tearoffs and the red (temperature) light came on.”
Finishing in positions 6-10 were Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y.; Darren Miller of Milledgeville, Ill.; WoO LMS points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky.; 20th-starter Scott James of Greendale, Ind.; and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., who used a provisional and started 23rd.
Among the race’s casualties were Babb, who was forced to make a pit stop on lap 26 after a broken right-rear wheel cover caused his wheel to pack with mud; Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who was knocked from a top-10 spot on lap 23 when his car’s right-rear tire blew up and wrapped around its suspension; and Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich., who spun in turn four on lap 13 and was involved in a lap-20 tangle with Aaron Scott of Newark, Ohio.
A field of 54 cars assembled for the event.
Pearson led all drivers in qualifying, turning a lap of 15.521 seconds. It was his second fast-time honor of the season with the WoO LMS.
Heat winners were Pearson, Bloomquist, Richards and Francis. The B-Mains were captured by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and Brian Ruhlman of Clarklake, Mich.
One year after tangling with Frank while bidding for the lead in the first-ever WoO LMS event at Eldora, track owner Stewart returned for another engagement and experienced a very eventful evening.
Driving the Old Spice/Bass Pro Shops No. 20 prepared by the Rocket Chassis team, Stewart was attempting to pass VanWormer for the final transfer spot in the first heat when he ran into the back of the slowing car driven by Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. He returned after a quick pit stop to patch up heavy right-side damage, but another tangle with VanWormer on a restart forced him out.
Stewart fell one spot short of qualifying in the first B-Main after trading slide-jobs with VanWormer. He got a second chance, however, when he won the Alltel Fan’s Choice Provisional, earning the loudest cheer of the five Eldora drivers who were picked for the competition.
Aaron Scott was the runner-up in the Alltel Fan’s Choice voting – and Stewart decided to add him to the A-Main as well as a track provisional. Stewart went on to finish 17th and Scott was 20th.
The night’s wildest accident occurred on the opening lap of the second B-Main. Bobby Kitchen of Grove City, Ohio, flipped in the middle of a multi-car tangle on the backstretch, but he emerged from his upside-down racer unhurt.
Alltel Ohio Speedweek continues on Saturday night (July 26) at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, and Sunday night (July 27) at Eriez Speedway.
The Outlaws’ busy month of July will conclude on Tues., July 29, with the rescheduled $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100 presented by GottaRace.com at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.
Results of WoO Late Model Series ‘Subway 50’ (Finishing Position/Start/Driver/Laps Completed/Money Won):
1. (2) Earl Pearson Jr./50 $10,150
2. (12) Brian Birkhofer/50 $5,100
3. (11) Shane Clanton/50 $3,000
4. (4) Josh Richards/50 $2,500
5. (5) Scott Bloomquist/50 $2,000
6. (6) Tim McCreadie/50 $1,700
7. (3) Darren Miller/50 $1,900
8. (10) Darrell Lanigan/50 $1,300
9. (20) Scott James/50 $1,200
10. (23) Clint Smith/50 $1,100
11. (15) Brady Smith/50 $1,050
12. (17) Chub Frank/50 $1,000
13. (8) Shannon Babb/50 $950
14. (14) Rick Eckert/50 $900
15. (22) Matt Miller/50 $850
16. (24) Tim Fuller/50 $800
17. (25) Tony Stewart/50 $770
18. (1) Steve Francis/50 $750
19. (7) Donnie Moran/50 $730
20. (27) Aaron Scott/49 $700
21. (16) Billy Moyer/38 $700
22. (18) Brian Ruhlman/36 $700
23. (26) John Blankenship/36 $0
24. (21) Jeep VanWormer/30 $700
25. (19) Kevin Claycomb/26 $700
26. (9) Ben Adkins/19 $700
27. (13) Chad Ruhlman/13 $700
Time of Race: 30 Mins., 5.549 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.820 Secs.
Yellow Flags: 4 (Laps 13, 20, 23, 26)
Lap Leaders: Pearson (1-50)
Provisional Starters: C. Smith, Fuller, Blankenship (WoO); Stewart (Alltel Fan Choice); A. Scott (track)
Rookie of the Race: Danny Johnson ($250)
WoO LMS ‘Bonus Bucks’ Winner: Darren Miller ($500)
Integra Shocks Crew Chief of the Race ($50): Randle Edwards (Pearson)
Chick Hawk Racing Hot Lap Award: Pearson (half-off tire warmers)
Super Clean ‘Start of the Race’: Babb ($100)
Time Trial Results (Position/No./Driver/Hometown/Best Lap):
1. 44p-Earl Pearson Jr./Jacksonville, FL 15.521
2. 0-Scott Bloomquist/Mooresburg, TN 15.606
3. 1-Josh Richards/Shinnston, WV 15.668
4. 19-Steve Francis/Ashland, KY 15.679
5. 19T-Tim Fuller/Watertown, NY 15.691
6. 99-Donnie Moran/Dresden, OH 15.704
7. 32d-Darren Miller/Milledgeville, IL 15.733
8. 18-Shannon Babb/Moweaqua, IL 15.737
9. 39-Tim McCreadie/Watertown, NY 15.767
10. 29-Darrell Lanigan/Union, KY 15.767
11. 25-Shane Clanton/Locust Grove, GA 15.775
12. 21-Billy Moyer/Batesville, AR 15.784
13. 20-Tony Stewart/Columbus, IN 15.789
14. H1-Jared Miley/South Park, PA 15.818
15. 49-Brian Ruhlman/Clarklake, MI 15.834
16. 15b-Brian Birkhofer/Muscatine, IA 15.900
17. 55-Jeep VanWormer/Pinconning, MI 15.989
18. 1*-Chub Frank/Bear Lake, PA 16.018
19. 20J-Jerry Bowersock/Wapakoneta, OH 16.067
20. 83-Scott James/Greendale, IN 16.082
21. 1s-Aaron Scott/Newark, OH 16.089
22. 24-Rick Eckert/York, PA 16.101
23. 2s-Brady Smith/Solon Springs, WI 16.104
24. 41-Brad Neat/Dunnville, KY 16.126
25. 23-John Blankenship/Williamson, WV 16.153
26. 16c-Kevin Claycomb/Vincennes, IN 16.159
27. 30-Steve Shaver/Vienna, WV 16.174
28. 32c-Vic Coffey/Leicester, NY 16.185
29. 1c-Wayne Chinn/Tipp City, OH 16.203
30. 17M-Mike Marlar/Winfield, TN 16.217
31. 7-Matt Miller/Waterville, OH 16.225
32. 50-Shanon Buckingham/Morristown, TN 16.258
33. B7-Ben Adkins/W. Portsmouth, OH 16.272
34. 11-Rusty Schlenk/Jackson, MI 16.349
35. 22-Gregg Satterlee/Rochester Mills, PA 16.385
36. 9-Dan Schlieper/Sullivan, WI 16.385
37. 20R-Chad Ruhlman/Beemus Point, NY 16.390
38. 16-Justin Rattliff/Campbellsville, KY 16.411
39. 2R-Joe Ramey/Ironton, OH 16.445
40. 12-Jordan Bland/Campbellsville, KY 16.480
41. 1N-Casey Noonan/Sylvania, OH 16.492
42. 34-Ky Harper/Holland, OH 16.512
43. 44-Clint Smith/Senoia, GA 16.611
44. 18H-Dustin Hapka/Grand Forks, ND 16.614
45. 0K-Jason Keltner/Campbellsville, KY 16.626
46. 27J-Danny Johnson/Phelps, NY 16.759
47. 6J-Joe Isabell/Pennellville, NY 16.890
48. 40-Wayne Maffett Jr./Mansfield, OH 17.010
49. 7JR-Sean Beardsley/Central Square, NY 17.015
50. 1x-Jason Jameson/Lawrenceburg, IN 17.359
51. 1K-Bobby Kitchen/Grove City, OH 17.460
52. 1M-John Mayes Jr./Clyde, OH 17.825
53. 13-Scott Baker/Ionia, MI 18.295
54. 21d-Dan Stone/Thompson, PA N/T
Heat No. 1 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Pearson, McCreadie, Adkins, C. Ruhlman, Noonan, VanWormer, Stewart, Fuller, Blankenship, Baker, Scott, Chinn, Keltner (DNS) Beardsley
Heat No. 2 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Bloomquist, Moran, Lanigan, Eckert, Frank, Claycomb, Miley, Schlenk, Harper, D. Johnson, Stone, Jameson, Marlar, Rattliff
Heat No. 3 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Richards, D. Miller, Clanton, B. Smith, B. Ruhlman, M. Miller, Bowersock, Satterlee, Kitchen, C. Smith, Ramey, Isabell, Shaver
Heat No. 4 (10 laps – Top 4 Transfer): Francis, Babb, Birkhofer, Moyer, James, Buckingham, Coffey, Neat, Bland, Schlieper, Maffett, Mayes, Hapka
B-Main No. 1 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): Frank, Claycomb, VanWormer, Stewart, Blankenship, Miley, Schlenk, Rattliff, Stone, D. Johnson, Chinn, Noonan, Jameson, Beardsley, Fuller, Scott (DNS) Harper, Baker, Keltner, Marlar
B-Main No. 2 (12 laps – Top 3 Transfer): B. Ruhlman, James, M. Miller, Neat, Bowersock, Shaver, Bland, Schlieper, Satterlee, Ramey, Maffett, Mayes, Buckingham, Hapka, Coffey, Kitchen, C. Smith, Isabell
2008 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Point Standings as of July 25 – 28 A-Mains completed (rank/driver/wins/top-5s/top-10s/earnings/points/deficit to leader):
1. Darrell Lanigan 2-18-26-$77,750-3865 (-0)
2. Josh Richards 4-13-20-$90,560-3753 (-112)
3. Steve Francis 2-12-21-$108,700-3707 (-158)
4. Chub Frank 1-9-19-$57,930-3689 (-176)
5. Shane Clanton 1-13-20-$65,090-3689 (-176)
6. Shannon Babb 2-12-19-$79,450-3675 (-190)
7. (tie) Rick Eckert 1-9-19-$59,730-3651 (-214)
7. (tie) Clint Smith 1-9-17-$51,090-3651 (-214)
9. Tim Fuller 2-6-12-$52,420-3531 (-334)
10. John Blankenship 0-0-6-$29,520-3381 (-484)
11. Vic Coffey 0-0-6-$23,870-2839 (-1026)
12. Joe Isabell 0-0-0-$14,200-2520 (-1345)
13. Danny Johnson 0-0-1-$13,620-2112 (-1753)
14. Sean Beardsley 0-0-0-$8,810-2018 (-1847)
15. Tim McCreadie 1-6-10-$39,900-1601 (-2264)
LISTEN ONLINE: If fans can’t get to a track to see the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, they can experience the excitement of the nation’s premier tour live on DIRTvision.com through the DIRT Radio Network.
To listen to the free audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo.
Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. For technical support or questions, e-mail [email protected]
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by several sponsors and partners, including Advance Auto Parts – the official auto parts store of the WoO LMS – and contingency sponsors Wrisco Industries, Chicken Hawk Racing, Crane Cams, Ohlins Shocks, Quarter-Master, Eibach Springs, Integra Shocks, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, Qwikliner and Super Clean.