2023 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Banquet

Earl Pearson Jr.'s Ride With Papich Racing Ends As Team Shuts Down

Earl Pearson Jr.'s Ride With Papich Racing Ends As Team Shuts Down

Earl Pearson Jr.'s run of two-plus years with Jason Papich has ended as the Californian announced he's shutting down his team.

Nov 27, 2023 by Kevin Kovac

Earl Pearson Jr.’s stint of two-plus years driving for Jason Papich has ended with Monday’s announcement that the Californian is shutting down his Papich Racing operation.

A four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion who just completed his 19th consecutive season following the national tour, Pearson, 51, of Jacksonville, Fla., revealed Papich’s decision in a post on his Facebook racing page. The veteran racer thanked Papich and his wife, April, his crew members and sponsors for their support and remarked that “our friendship within this team and owners is stronger than ever.”

Pearson met Papich, a 44-year-old businessman and occasional racer from Nipomo, Calif., when Papich spent the 2014 campaign competing on the Lucas Oil Series. Their friendship led them to join forces in late 2021 when Pearson departed the Black Diamond house car team to race for Papich’s then Camdenton, Mo.-based operation.

The 2022 season was an encouraging one for Pearson, who piloted Papich’s Longhorn cars to 15 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes in 48 Lucas Oil Series starts en route to placing fifth in the points standings. The year was highlighted by Pearson’s single victory, a $50,000 score in August’s Rumble by the River event at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway.

But Pearson’s performance slipped significantly in ’23 as he went winless while recording only three top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in his 54 Lucas Oil starts. His best finish was fourth (twice), he failed to lead a single feature lap for just the second time in his 19 years as a Lucas Oil regular (2011) and he finished a distant 10th in the circuit’s points standings.

With Pearson finishing a family vacation on Monday, he was unavailable to immediately comment on his future racing plans.