Earl Pearson Finds Redemption to the Tune of $50,000 at Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rumble by the River Event

By Justin Snyder

Port Royal Speedway- PORT ROYAL, PA-  (August 28, 2022)-  It’s easy to believe that Earl Pearson Jr. Racing. has had the Rumble by the River at the Port Royal Speedway circled on his calendar all season.

Anytime a race pays $50,000-to-win, there’s going to be anticipation and a want to do well. However, Pearson felt like there was a bit of unfinished business out there and that he just maybe had one get away from him at the Juniata County oval back in April when late race contact with Kyle Larson cost him a shot at a victory.


Well, the four month wait paid off in a big way as EPJ stamped his name in the record books and captured the grandest prize ever offered for Late Models in Port Royal Speedway history over Ricky Thornton Jr, Gregg Satterlee, Jonathan Davenport and Daulton Wilson. 


The win also snapped a nearly two-year, 114-race, drought for Pearson on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and proved that the 50-year old veteran still had it behind the wheel.


“This was absolutely redemption weekend,” said Pearson Jr. “We were fast then and we were fast last night. I love this place. It’s a beautiful place and you can race all over. They’ve done a heck of a job here.”


Dave Hollidge set the stage early in the night when he outdueled Brandon Sheppard in heat race one to capture the pole for the 50-lap A-main and he lined up alongside of Thornton Jr. to take the green flag for the prized event.


It was Thornton Jr. grabbing the top spot out of turn two to lead the opening lap over Hollidge, fifth-place starter Jimmy Owens, Pearson and Chris Ferguson.


Pearson Jr. was on the move early and he advanced form his fourth-place starting spot to second on lap four. Owens and Ferguson followed suit into third and fourth, while one lap later Satterlee was up to seventh from his 12th-place starting spot.

Satterlee moved into sixth four laps later, but all eyes were on the froont of the field as the top four drivers were all under a blanket racing for the top spot. It was Pearson Jr. taking advantage of the opportunity one lap later as he got by Thornton Jr for the lead, while Ferguson moved past Owens for the final podium spot.


Satterlee continued his march forward as he cracked the top five on lap 15, while Pearson Jr. was struggling to get past lapped traffic as well. 


Owens got back by Ferguson to regain his spot on the podium four laps later and six laps later at the halfway point Satterlee got by Ferguson for the fourth position. 


Pearson remained steady up front and seemed to be in cruise control as he held a 1.9 second advantage with 15 laps remaining, but one lap later Thornton Jr. seemed to have found a second wind as he cut the distance to 1.4 seconds. He continued the trend of tracking down the leader as he cut another three tenths of a second off the advantage the following lap and he remained steady in pursuit over the next six circuits.


It looked like the battle up front was about to get exciting for the fans, but Tyler Erb came to a slow on the track to bring out the caution with six laps remaining for the first and only caution of the event.


Satterlee was the benefactor of the restart as he was able to get by Owens for the final podium position in turn’s one and two, while Thornton Jr. was using every inch of the track in attempt to regain his spot at the front of the field.


Over the final five circuits the young-gun would get run after run off the top of the Speedway and tried every move he could to get by Pearson, but the veteran was not to be denied as he drove home to the $50,000 payday by a margin of .612 seconds for his 40th career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series triumph.


Owens, Mike Marlar, Ferguson, Sheppard and Hudson O’Neal rounded out the top ten. Colton Flinner finished 15th after taking a provisional to start the event from the 25th position to earn the Lauver’s Concessions $600 Hard Charger award.


“This is awful emotional for me as I lost my dad last year and this is for him and my mom and everybody up in heaven looking out on me today,” said Pearson Jr. “Ain’t no doubt they have been a huge support of everything I’ve ever done.


“What a heck of a show that was and Thornton ran me awful clean. He had me down there on the other end, but it was a hell of a race and I did everything I could and we’re in first place. I’m out of breath. I don’t know if I needed that last caution, but this was just a hell of a race. After 114 races this was a long time coming and to be worth $50,000 the wait paid off.”


For Thornton Jr, he didn’t want to see the caution come out and felt he had a shot at victory.


“I really didn’t want that yellow as I felt I could move around pretty good before that,” said Thornton Jr. “I tried a Hail-Mary  kind of slider and I knew I wasn’t going to clear him and I wasn’t going to run him over. Earl raced all of us clean and I just didn’t have enough. We’re excited for the rest of the year.”


For Satterlee, while it wasn’t the win he captured with the series at the track in April, it was a solid performance against a stout field of cars.


“We did nothing different there in the last part of the race, but there were a lot less cars in front of us and that allowed us to maneuver a little bit more,” said Satterlee. ” We had a good car tonight and we are happy to come up here and get a third. I wad disappointed with myself in that heat race as we just needed a better starting spot.”


Rumble by the River A-Main (50 Laps): 1. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[4]; 2. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[2]; 3. 22-Gregg Satterlee[12]; 4. 49-Jonathan Davenport[8]; 5. 18D-Daulton Wilson[9]; 6. 20-Jimmy Owens[5]; 7. 157-Mike Marlar[13]; 8. 22F-Chris Ferguson[3]; 9. 1-Brandon Sheppard[7]; 10. 71-Hudson O’Neal[10]; 11. 39-Tim McCreadie[6]; 12. 58-Garrett Alberson[16]; 13. 9Z-Mason Zeigler[19]; 14. 15K-Dale Hollidge[1]; 15. 48-Colton Flinner[25]; 16. 4-Gary Stuhler[11]; 17. 1T-Tyler Erb[18]; 18. 0E-Rick Eckert[17]; 19. 11-Spencer Hughes[23]; 20. 119-Bryan Bernheisel[14]; 21. 7-Ross Robinson[24]; 22. 72-Michael Norris[15]; 23. 2JW-Justin Weaver[21]; 24. D19-Dillan Stake[20]; 25. 9M-Hayes Mattern[22]


For the second consecutive night the Mid Atlantic Modifieds had the fans in attendance and at home talking as Michael Altobelli capitalized on contact between Keith Jackson and David Stremme to score the $1500 victory.


One night earlier it was Ethan Dotson and Nick Hoffman up front drag racing to the finish line for the victory in a photo finish that saw both drivers wrecked in turn one and the Dotson needing a tow to victory lane.


Stremme led the first 11 laps of the event before Jackson got by for the lead in turn one and two on the following circuit. Stremme got back by him to lead the circuit, but Jackson would overtake him entering turn one to officially become the leader.


Following a caution with five laps remaining, Stremme was able to slide in front of Jackson to take the lead with two laps remaining. Coming to the final turn, Jackson tried a slider on Stremme for the lead and both drivers made contact and had to right themselves. 

This allowed a lurking Altobelli to sneak under both drivers to drive home to the checkered flag and his second career triumph at the track.


Jackson, Stremme, George Dixon and Dave Davies rounded out the top five.


Mid-Atlantic Modified Results- 1. Michael Altobelli, 2. Keith Jackson, 3. David Stremme, 4. George Dixon, 5. Dan Davies, 6. Ryan Ayers, 7. Rick Eckert, 8. Ray Kable, 9. Justin Cullum, 10. Evan Taylor, 11. Brandon Kinzer, 12. Ridge Bookwalter, 13. Rick Hudson, 14. Greg Huager, 15. Donnie Farling, 16. Cody Oliver, 17. Doug Stine, 18. George Beckett, 19. Tim Schulte, 20. TJ Dehaven, 21. Mike Pappas, 22. Brandon Hoover, 23. Steve Rex, 24. Beau Aikey


Colton Flinner scored his sixth victory of the season at the Port Royal Speedway as he bested Dillan Stake, Gary Stuhler, Hayes Mattern and Justin Weaver as part of a Krill Recycling, LLC Super Late Model make-up feature event.


Stake set the pace early as he led the opening 20 laps of the event, Flinner was able to overtake him with five laps remaining to grab the lead and cruised home with ease for another victory at the track.


Super Late Model Make-Up Results- 1. Colton Flinner, 2. Dillan Stake, 3. Gary Stuhler, 4. Hyaes Mattern, 5. Justin Weaver, 6. Chad Myers, 7. Mike Lupfer, 8. Jason Schmidt, 9. Tim Wilson, 10. Austin Berry, 11. Kody Lyter, 12. Gene Knaub, 13. Devin Hart, 14. Randy Croop, 15. Jim McBee