Pearson & Saldana Start Off Speedweeks in Victory Lane
Sprints and Dirt Late Models Thunder Through Florida on Tuesday Night

Two-time and defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series National Champion, Earl Pearson, Jr. of Jacksonville, FL scored his first ever win at East Bay Raceway Park on Tuesday Night during the 31st  Annual Winternationals for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.  Pearson’s win was his sixth career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory and his first driving for car owner, Bobby Labonte.  Pearson took the lead at the beginning of the 30 lap $5,000 to win main event and led every lap.  The 35 year old racer drove the LifeLong Locks, MOPAR, Lucas Oil Products, Sunoco Race Fuels, Allstar Performance, Dunn-Benson Motorsports, Larry Wallace Racing Engines, MasterSbilt Dodge Charger to victory lane over Steve Francis of Ashland, KY who finished second in his Valvoline/Custom Race Engines/Rocket GTO. 
Earl Pearson in victory lane.  ( Photo)
Finishing third was Moss, TN’s Ricky Arms in the Tom Herron/Perfect Wall, Inc/MastersBilt GTO with Don O’Neal of Martinsville, IN in the Jerry Jones/Jones Core/MasterSbilt Monte Carlo and Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, IL in the Bill Moyer/Car City/C.J. Rayburn Monte Carlo completing the top five drivers.  A total of 92 entries were on hand for the second night of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action at East Bay.

Pearson drew the pole among the eight heat race winners as Terry Casey would line up beside him on the start.  The caution came out with one lap scored for Damon Eller and then on the restart several cars were involved in a wreck in turn four.  Two straight cautions came on lap three and four as the anxious drivers would see four cautions in the first four laps of the race. 

The race then settled for a run of 11 green flag laps with Pearson on the point followed by Francis, Casey, Arms and Don O’Neal.  There was no movement in the top five until
Dan Schlieper went around O’Neal on lap 11 for fifth.  Pearson then started to work lapped traffic by lap 14 and then caution number five came out on lap 15 which would clear Pearson’s path in front of him.

O’Neal got back into the top five on lap 16 passing Schlieper for that spot.  The sixth and final caution came out on lap 20 for Casey who gave up a strong run as he slid to a stop in turn three after he had run several laps in that position with left front suspension damage.  That moved Arms into third with O’Neal and Shannon Babb up to fourth and fifth with ten laps remaining in the race.

On the restart Pearson would again pull away from Francis and set sail to the checkered flag as he would finally breakthrough at East Bay for his first ever win at the track in his home state.  Francis finished a solid second followed by another impressive run for Arms who bettered his sixth place finish on opening night with a third place.  O’Neal and Babb would round out the top five.

Pearson in victory lane thanked all of sponsors and crew for their outstanding work with his new race team.  “I want to thank my crew chief, Jason Fitzgerald, Matt and Regan and everybody else with Bobby Labonte Racing for this opportunity.”  “I just wanted to get out in front and with the way the track was I knew it was important to get off to a good start, but then again we got off good last night, but we didn’t win.”

Completing the top ten were Dan Schlieper, Matt Miller, Josh Richards, Anthony White and Donnie Moran.

In preliminary action Billy Drake was the LifeLong Locks Fast Time Award Winner with a qualifying lap of 14.894 seconds.  The Hawk Brake and Quarter Master Sponsored Heat Race Winners were Shannon Babb, Terry Casey, Matt Miller, Earl Pearson, Jr., Dan Schlieper, Steve Francis, Don O’Neal and Ricky Arms.  The Mason Racin’ Rebel Shock Dyno and Penske Shocks B-Main Sponsored Winners were Josh Richards, Terry English, Steve Shaver and Patrick Sheltra.


Joey Saldana opened the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop in impressive form on Tuesday night as he claimed the win in the 25-lap event for the O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions.

Saldana, the 1996 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year started fifth and quickly
worked his way into the lead, passing Lucas Wolfe on the fourth circuit. A long green flag run allowed
the native of Brownsburg, Indiana who drives for NASCAR star Kasey Kahne to set a blistering pace
as he lapped all the way up to the eighth-place finisher.

World of Outlaws drivers earned eight of the Top-10 spots when the checkered flag flew on the 25-lap
event at the racy half-mile. Craig Dollansky, who finished second in World of Outlaws points last
season, was second, nearly ten seconds behind Saldana. Tim Shaffer turned in another impressive
early season run in his return from injury last season, as he was third. Terry McCarl came home
fourth, with Daryn Pittman just behind him.

Jason Solwold came home sixth in the A-Feature, after setting a new track record of 12.948
seconds in time trials, besting the 58 cars on-hand. Jason Meyers turned in a very impressive run
finishing seventh, after lining 22nd. He raced his way into the A-Feature by winning the B-Main. 
Danny Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws Champion was eighth on Thursday night.

Other World of Outlaws drivers that competed in the A-Feature included: Jason Sides, Tony Bruce
Jr., who will battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award this season, fellow rookie
contender Chad Hillier, and Dion Hindi.

Other World of Outlaws drivers were in action on Tuesday night included: Jason Martin, Randy
Hannagan, Jeremy Campbell, and Chad Kemenah.

The 2007 World of Outlaws season opens on February 9th as part of the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park.

Joey Saldana  ( Photo)