FARLEY, IA (May 18, 2007) - After Friday Night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Farley Speedway, the “Palace of Speed,” Earl Pearson, Jr. of Jacksonville, FL came from the 15th starting spot to win the 50 lap $10,000 to win event. The first three finishers all came from deep in the stating grid as second place finisher Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA roared from 17th and Richmond, IN native Steve Casebolt used a provisional to start 23rd and wound up third in the final rundown.
Pole sitter Steve Shaver grabbed the point at the start of the main event with Donnie Moran and Don O’Neal escaping from a three wide race into turn one to take the second and third spots as the first lap was scored. O’Neal would follow Moran for one more circuit before he would execute the pass on Moran on lap three. O’Neal would then start to hound Shaver for the lead as Shaver was running only the second race of his career at Farley. Coming off turn two on the ninth lap, a slowing car would cut down on O’Neal causing an accident that would eliminate the driver who came into the race second in points.
On the restart Shaver was still showing the way with Darren Miller now on the move. Miller would hold the second slot until a three wide tango for second between Miller, Brian Birkhofer and Earl Pearson, Jr. would take place on lap 15. At this point of the race Shaver was comfortably out front and looked like the car that everyone was going to have to beat. The second caution of the race on lap 18 for Brad Neat bunched the field back up for a Delaware double file restart.
Pearson gained the advantage on the restart moving up to second place, as the top five were now all within close quarters of each other. With 20 laps in the books Pearson was staying right with Shaver in the race for the lead. Caution number three would come out for Billy Drake on lap 21 and that would set up another double file restart behind Shaver.
When the green came out again Pearson would go door to door with Shaver in a great battle for the lead. At the halfway mark, the race for the lead was tight with Pearson all over Shaver. Birkhofer was holding down third with Steve Casebolt up from his inside row 12 starting spot getting by Billy Moyer for fourth two laps earlier.
The fourth caution would come out on lap 27 and that unfortunately would be for race leader Steve Shaver, who’s MSD cap had come off forcing him to lose power in his engine. Shaver would be pushed to the pit area and a strong bid for a win was out the window, as Shaver would park his car for the rest of the evening.
Pearson would then inherit the lead with Birkhofer, Casebolt, Moyer and Miller the rest of the top five. On the restart Casebolt would drive his car hard into the corner and get by Birkhofer for second on lap 28 bringing Moyer with him into third. A few laps later Birkhofer would mount another challenge on the top shelf claiming the second spot back from Casebolt on lap 32. A lap later the final caution of the race would come out for 10th place running Scott James who came to a halt in turn number four.
With 18 laps to go Pearson was the man to beat and despite a car that had been smoking from the start of the race. Pearson would quickly build a seven-car length lead over Birkhofer with ten laps to go. Birkhofer then started to pick up the race with less than ten to go as he would cut the advantage that Pearson held in half with five to go. Birkhofer would then close to just two car lengths as Pearson’s lead would become precariously in jeopardy.
But in the last few laps Pearson’s car would hold together as he would take the checkered flag first to earn his seventh career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event win. The two-time and defending series champion had started in the 15th spot. In victory lane a relieved Pearson was glad the race was over. “I’ll tell you what, it was a big gamble on tires tonight, we started so far back we dug our self a hole qualifying and I hated it for Steve Shaver tonight and I didn’t know if I could’ve got by him” said the 35 year old second generation racer.
“It was a heck of a job by my crew tonight, Jason Fitzgerald and all the guys do a great job with this team and I want to thank Bobby Labonte, Larry Wallace, LifeLong Locks and Lucas Oil they’re great sponsors, we’ve been kind of down and out this month but we are going to survive, there was oil coming out on the breathers, but we’ll get back to the pit area and check out what exactly it was.”
Pearson driving the Bobby Labonte Racing/LifeLong Locks/MOPAR/Lucas Oil Products/Sunoco Race Fuels/Allstar Performance/Dunn Benson Motor sports/Larry Wallace Racing Engines/MasterSbilt Dodge Charger took his second Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event of the year vaulting him to fourth place in the Championship points standings.
Second place finisher Brian Birkhofer, in his Simon Trucking/Pro Power Engines/Rocket Chevrolet, started in the row behind Pearson and like Pearson advanced through the field in a rapid fashion early in the race. “We put harder tires on and we just kind of gambled on running the top, it panned out, it was kind of brutal up there but congratulations to Earl and his team they needed a good run.”
Third place finisher Steve Casebolt, in the Dale Beitler Racing/Reliable Painting/Rocket GTO, also stirred the crowd’s interest with his run from 23rd to third despite loosing the left front wheel on his as the cars came out on the track for the feature. Casebolt’s car was actually towed to the pit area where the wheel was put back on as he then took his place on the tail as the parade lap was taking place on the race track. “I would have never thought we would have come out of here third after taking a provisional we were terrible in the heat, but we got it together and we had the right tires on (American Racers).”
Terry English of Benton, KY barely edged out series points leader Billy Moyer of Batesville, AR to claim fourth. English was behind the wheel of his Triple AAA Fence/ARC Race Engines/C.J. Rayburn Monte and Moyer was in the Car City/Pro Power Engines/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo.
Completing the top ten were Darren Miller, Damon Eller, Brady Smith, Steve Ihm and Justin Rattliff. A total of 40 cars were on hand for the Simmons Promotions, Inc. promoted event.
In preliminary action Donnie Moran was the LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier for the 40 entrants with a lap of 18.692 seconds. The Hawk Brake and Quarter Master Heat races were won by Dan Schlieper, Billy Moyer, Darren Miller and Steve Shaver. The Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno and Penske Shocks B-mains were taken by Brian Birkhofer and Brad Neat. The K&N Clean Pass of the Race went to Terry English for his at the finish line pass of Billy Moyer to finish fourth and move into second place behind Moyer in the points chase.
Race Summary Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Farley Speedway- Farley, IA Friday Night, May 18, 2007
LifeLong Locks Fast Qualifier: Donnie Moran/18.692 seconds
Hawk Brake First Heat: (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance) Dan Schlieper, Donnie Moran, Damon Eller, Scott James, Brian Birkhofer, Chad Simpson, Adam Hensel, Kerry Hansen, Denny Eckrich
Quarter Master Second Heat: (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance) Billy Moyer, Don O’Neal, Terry English, Tyler Bruening, Brady Smith, Billy Drake, Curt Martin, Steve Casebolt, Mike Mataragas, Jeff Larson
Hawk Brake Third Heat: (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance) Darren Miller, Terry Casey, Justin Rattliff, Earl Pearson, Jr., Chris Simpson, Steve Ihm, Scott Lemke, Jason Rauen, Jill George, Andrew McKay
Quarter Master Fourth Heat: (10 Laps-Top 4 Advance) Steve Shaver, Jay Johnson, Andy Eckrich, Dave Eckrich, Todd Shute, Freddy Smith, Brad Neat, Eric Pember, Darin Duffy, Ray Cook
Mason Racin’ Rebel Shocks Dyno First B-Main : (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Brian Birkhofer, Brady Smith, Billy Drake, Adam Hensel, Chad Simpson, Kerry Hansen, Denny Eckrich, Jeff Larson, Jacob Murray, Steve Casebolt, Mike Mataragas
Penske Shocks Second B-Main: (12 Laps-Top 3 Advance) Brad Neat, Freddy Smith, Steve Ihm, Chris Simpson, Scott Lemke, Andrew McKay, Todd Shute, Darin Duffy, Ray Cook, Jill George, Jason Rauen, Eric Pember
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Main Event Finish: (50 Laps) Earl Pearson, Jr., Brian Birkhofer, Steve Casebolt, Terry English, Billy Moyer, Darren Miller, Damon Eller, Brady Smith, Steve Ihm, Justin Rattliff, Donnie Moran, Freddy Smith, Dan Schlieper, Tyler Bruening, Ray Cook, Scott James, Steve Shaver, Terry Casey, Billy Drake, Brad Neat, Andy Eckrich, Dave Eckrich, Jay Johnson, Don O’Neal
Entries: 40 Yellow Flags: 5 Lap Leaders: Steve Shaver 1-27, Earl Pearson, Jr. 28-50 Edelbrock Hard Charger Award: Steve Casebolt (Started 23rd and Finished 3rd-Advanced 20 Positions) Allstar Performance Performer of the Race: Earl Pearson, Jr. K&N Clean Pass: Terry English Comp Cams Rookie of the Race: Damon Eller Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Provisionals: Steve Casebolt and Ray Cook
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Championship Points Standings (After 5/18/07)
1. Billy Moyer (Batesville, AR) 1240 2. Terry English (Benton, KY) 1125 3. Steve Casebolt (Richmond, IN) 1120 4. Earl Pearson, Jr. (Jacksonville, FL) 1110 5. Don O’Neal (Martinsville, IN) 1065 6. Scott James (Lawrenceburg, IN) 1055 7. Steve Shaver (Vienna, WV) 1005 8. Donnie Moran (Dresden, OH) 975 9. Dan Schlieper (Sullivan, WI) 950 10. Brian Birkhofer (Muscatine, IA) 870
Current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series COMP Cams Rookie of the Year Points Standings (After 5/18/07)
1. Damon Eller (Crumpler, NC) 810 2. Justin Rattliff (Campbellsville, KY) 765 3. Brad Neat (Dunnville, KY) 63 4. Garrett Durrett (Simsboro, LA) 280 5. Mike Mataragas (De Kalb, IL) 240 6. Ricky Arms (Moss, TN) 180