Talladega Short Track9/30/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Talladega Short Track9/29/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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East Alabama Motor Speedway9/24/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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North Alabama Speedway8/26/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Senoia Raceway8/19/2023CRUSA Dirt Late Models
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Pearson Enjoys First Crate Experience

Pearson Enjoys First Crate Experience

ELLISVILLE, Fla. (Oct. 24) — Four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Earl Pearson Jr. took advantage of an opportunity to race a little closer to his home in Jacksonville, Fla., when he competed and finished second in the 25th edition of the Powell Family Memorial held in late October at All-Tech Raceway.
Not only was it a rare non-Florida Speedweeks appearance in his home state, it also marked Pearson’s first-ever appearance behind the wheel of a 604 Crate Late Model. The $25,000-to-win contest was held as a non-points event for the Adairsville, Ga.-based Newsome/Raceway Parts Network-sponsored Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series, and the lucrative victory was claimed by Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla.
Running his patented low line and making a typical late-race charge, Pearson came up short in the 67-lapper that honors the family of former driver James Powell III, who lost six family members in a June, 1995, plane crash near Gainesville, Fla., including his parents and twin daughters.
“It’s hard to break these cars loose because they don’t have as much horsepower,” said Pearson, who chose Eagle Racing Engines. “You really have to work with the brakes, and use a few tricks to drive ‘em right. When you’re in a Super Late Model car at this track, you’re flyin’ at the end of the straightaway. These cars, it seems like you can read a book before you get there.”
Pearson’s comparison wasn’t intended to be a demeaning statement, and actually served as just the opposite. He felt the difference in horsepower between the two types of cars actually puts more of a premium on driving ability with the 604 Chevrolet Performance Circle Track Engines.
“I really enjoyed it,” Pearson said. “I’ve never run a crate car before, and it’s a lot of fun. It puts the driver and handling back into it, and actually way more than I would have thought. When you’re in a Super Late Model you can spin the wheels to break ‘em loose pretty easily, but you ain’t got that kinda power with these cars. You have to use the steering wheel and the brakes, where in a Super Late Model you can just mash the gas wide open and break it loose when you need.”
Pearson rolled into the picture during the late stages, and was in contention to win as the race neared its conclusion, applying his years behind the wheel to a new driving situation.
“These cars really surprised me,” Pearson said. “It takes a lot more skill to drive one of these cars than most people would think. It requires a lot of footwork, and a few tricks to be really fast in ‘em.”


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