PORT ROYAL, Pa. — Earl Pearson Jr. raced to the top position on lap 10 and held on for his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series win since July of 2020.
Pearson held off Ricky Thornton Jr. to take the richest dirt late model race in the history of Port Royal Speedway, earning a $50,000 payday in the Rumble by the River main event.
Thornton took home $20,000 for second place, as the defending Dirt Track World Champion finished just .612 seconds behind the four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion.
Gregg Satterlee came from the 12th starting spot to finish third, with Jonathan Davenport and Daulton Wilson rounding out the top five drivers.
Thornton took the lead at the start of the race as Pearson, who started fourth, started making his move early and had climbed to second by lap five. Pearson then outdueled Thornton in the race for the lead to grab the top position on lap 10.
Pearson looked to be in control until Thornton started to close the gap with less than 10 laps to go. The green-flag stretch of racing reached 44 consecutive laps before a caution with six to go would set-up a shootout between the two Lucas Oil regulars.
When the race restarted, Thornton made every effort to get by Pearson, but the 50-year-old Florida native was able to hold off the defending Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year to take the victory.
“It’s awful emotional for me, I lost my dad last year and this is for him and my mom and everybody up in Heaven looking down on me today,” Pearson said. “There’s no doubt they have been a huge part of everything I have done. This is for all of my family and friends back home and everybody that’s pulling for us. What a heck of a show that was. Thornton ran me awful clean, he got into me a little bit down there in four, but hey that was a heck of a race and I done all I could.”
Thornton, who sits third in the championship points standings, had tracked down Pearson before the only caution of the race. “
I really didn’t want that yellow. I felt like I could move around pretty good before that. I tried a Hail-Mary kind of slider, and I knew I wasn’t going to clear him,” Thornton said. “I wasn’t going to run him over. Earl raced all of us clean, so I made sure I left him a lane. We just didn’t have enough. I felt good in one and two and I could move around. He was kind of committed to the bottom. Overall, I mean it was a brand-new car for this weekend and we had a couple of good runs; we are excited for the rest of the year.”
Satterlee, who captured the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Port Royal in April and came into the race with nine overall wins at eight different tracks, charged from the outside of row number six to round out the podium.
“We did nothing different there in the last part of the race. There were less cars in front of us and that allowed us to maneuver a little a bit more and we could race better. We had a good car tonight. We are happy to come up through there to get third. I was disappointed with myself in that heat race. I just needed to get a better starting spot.”
Earl Pearson Jr., Ricky Thornton Jr., Gregg Satterlee, Jonathan Davenport, Daulton Wilson, Jimmy Owens, Mike Marlar, Chris Ferguson, Brandon Sheppard, Hudson O’Neal, Tim McCreadie, Garrett Alberson, Mason Zeigler, Dale Hollidge, Colton Flinner, Gary Stuhler, Tyler Erb, Rick Eckert, Spencer Hughes, Bryan Bernheisel, Ross Robinson, Michael Norris, Justin Weaver, Dillan Stake, Hayes Mattern.
Keyword: Pearson Ends Drought, Banks $50,000