Earl Pearson Jr. ¿cleaned up¿ Friday night as the Jacksonville, Fla., resident stormed to victory in the 40-lap late model stock car feature that kicked off the two-day Jani-King Southern Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Lowe¿s Motor Speedway.

Pearson Jr. lined up sixth in the 26-car field of O¿Reilly Southern All Star Series late models and needed only three trips around the four-tenths-mile oval to take command for the first time. He persevered through eight caution flags for inconsequential incidents and held off three-time series champion Clint Smith to claim the $10,000 first prize.

¿This track was in great shape and I hope all these fans enjoyed that,¿ Pearson Jr. said after climbing from his No. 1 late model. ¿We got to the front early and were able to stay there.

¿Every time we would get to the lapped cars, the caution flag would come out,¿ Pearson Jr. continued. ¿I wasn¿t good on the restarts and I was afraid Clint was going to get around us. But I did what I had to do on that last restart and was able to pull away.¿

Smith lined up 10th and steadily worked his way to the front, but was no match for Pearson Jr. and had to settle for second.

¿I had two shots at Earl there at the end, but he had the superior car tonight,¿ Smith explained. ¿We will make some adjustments and come back after it tomorrow night.¿

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series veteran Ken Schrader, who celebrates his 49th birthday Saturday, lined up 13th and charged to third at the checkered flag. Second-generation dirt-track racer Tim McCreadie and Gary Stuhler completed the top five.

The eight-lap heat races were won by Jeff Smith, Jeep Vanwormer, Pearson Jr., Jackie Boggs, McCreadie and Steve Lucas while Larry Blankenship, Terrance Nowell and Randle Chupp topped the eight-lap last chance races.

The most serious incident of the evening came at the start of the sixth heat race when several cars tangled in turn one, sending Clint Elkins machine flipping. The Lincolnton, N.C., driver climbed from his badly damaged car uninjured.

The 12-lap feature for the IMCA modifieds saw Brett Wilson of Kernersville, N.C., claim the victory over Jason Rice and Jamie Kuntz.

Ronald Bacelo of Concord, N.C., topped the eight-lap feature for the new Road Hawg division. Doug Meyer chased Bacelo under the checkered flag with Rusty Drye home third.

The Jani-King Southern Showdown continues Saturday night with a possible $28,000 awaiting the winner of the 50-lap late model feature. MINIKISS will perform a 45-minute concert at 6:15 p.m. with racing slated to start at 7:30. Adult tickets are $20 with children 12 and under admitted for just $5. Tickets will be available at the gate.

The late model results:

First Heat (8 laps): 1. Jeff Smith, 2. Edward Basey, 3. Ken , 4 Skippy Jackson, 5, Phillip Siefert, 6. Rodney Martin, 7. Jimmy Owens, 8. Roger Pate, 9. Furman Parton, 10. Tommy Bagwell, 11. Chris Knight.

Second Heat (8 laps): 1. Jeep Vanwormer, 2. Clint Smith, 3. Casey Roberts, 4. Larry Blankenship, 5. Dan Breuer, 6. Stacy Holmes, 7. Noel Tucker, 8. Marshall Austin, 9. Jerry Rice, 10. Bob Gordon, 11. Shane Tankersley.

Third Heat (8 laps): 1. Earl Pearson Jr., 2. Petey Ivey, 3. Mike Balzano, 4. Mike Head, 5. Roger Lucas, 6. Mo Gordy, 7. Ron Blankenship, 8. Mike Duvall, 9. Bruce Hall, 10. Damon Eller, 11. Neil Welch.

Fourth Heat (8 laps): 1. Jackie Boggs, 2. Gary Stuhler, 3. Dennis Franklin, 4. Randy Korte, 5. Terrance Nowell, 6. Tim Christi, 7. Derrick Rainey, 8. Buckshot Miles, 9. Joe Ramey, 10. Roger Hamrick, 11. Mike Marler.

Fifth Heat (8 laps): 1. Tim McCreadie, 2. Billy Hicks, 3. Steve Shaver, 4. Barry Bragdon, 5. Randle Chupp, 6. David Smith, 7. Marshall Green, 8. Tim Heade, 9. Raymond Brown, 10. Jerry Fifield, 11. Doug Sander.

Sixth Heat (8 laps): 1. Steve Lucas, 2. Royce Bray, 3. Jeremy Miller, 4. Chris Madden, 5. Neil Welch, 6. Lance Elson, 7. Jeff Cooke, 8. Clint Elkins, 9. Rod Evans, 10. Hot Rod Lamance.

First Consolation (8 laps): 1. Larry Blankenship, 2. Jimmy Owen, 3. Skippy Jackson, 4. Stacy Holmes, 5. Dan Breuer, 6. Rodney Martin, 7. Roger Pate, 8. Noel Tucker, 9. Marshall Austin, 10. Phillip Siefert, 11. Jerry Rice.

Second Consolation (8 laps): 1. Terrance Nowell, 2. Mo Gordy, 3. Roger Lucas, 4. Tim Christi, 5. Derrick Rainey, 6. Ron Blankenship, 7. Mike Duvall, 8. Randy Korte, 9. Damon Eller, 10. Mike Head, 11. Bruce Hall, 12. Joe Ramey, 13. Roger Hamrick.

Third Consolation: (8 laps): 1. Randle Chupp, 2. David Smith, 3. Marshall Green, 4. Neil Welch, 5. Tim Head, 6. Jerry Fifield, 7. Raymond Brown, 8. Chris Madden, 9. Barry Bragdon, 10. Lance Elson, 11. Jeff Cooke.

Feature (40 laps): 1. Earl Parson, Jr., 2. Clint Smith, 3. Ken Schrader, 4. Tim McCreadie, 5. Gary Stuhler, 6. Casey Roberts, 7. Jeff Cooke, 8. Jeremy Miller, 9. Steve Shaver, 10. Terrance Nowell, 11. Billy Hicks, 12. Larry Blankenship, 13. Pete Ivey, 14. Shane Tankersley, 15. Jeff Smith, 16. Jackie Boggs, 17. Jimmy Owens, 18. Royce Bray, 19. Mike Balzano, 20. David Smith, 21. Dennis Franklin, 22. Randle Chupp, 23. Ed Basey, 24. Steve Lucas, 25. Randy Korte, 26. Jeep Vanwormer.