Jeff Pearl Seeks SK-150 Repeat

Waterford, CTWithout hesitation, Jeff Pearl says last year’s SK-150 was the biggest of his 29 career victories at Waterford Speedbowl. He now hopes to tell you what two straight feels like.

The “150” highlights the Speedbowl’s season opening, 11th annual, 10-division Budweiser Modified Nationals April 12-13. It is the oldest and still the most prestigious extra-distance, extra-money SK event.

Winning will be no easy chore. This year’s entry list includes Rob Summers, Kenny Horton, 2006 winner Frank Ruocco, Doug Coby and Jeff Malave in addition to “home bodies” like defending champ Rob Janovic Jr. six-time king Dennis Gada and Dennis Charette.

The field, he says, makes the “150” win “more prestigious” for a Speedbowl regular. Without a doubt, it was a key factor in a five-win, third-place in the final standings season for Pearl who won his first race, a 125 lapper, back in 1994. In only one year since then has he not won at least one feature.

The 1998 champion also hopes to add a second championship to his resume. “I am more excited about this year because of what we learned last year,” he says. Mechanical problems (transmission) were very costly point wise last summer.

There are two cars in the Pearl garage, a rebuilt SK and a car for the Speedbowl’s three True Value Modified Series events. The latter will serve as a back up for the Waterford wars.

A Speedbowl product – his father Jerry also a champion – understands and appreciates his place in the track’s rich history. He currently sits fourth on the all-time SK win list, one behind Hall of Famer Bob Potter and four away from Ted Christopher. “If you win races,” he says, “if you run well, people notice. It’s not going to buy you a cup of coffee but it makes you feel better drinking it.”

He has won four poles at the Speedbowl and, although he came from 17th last year, believes earning a good spot in the 150 times trials is “very important.” It would have been “much easier” last year had he time trialed better because “in a race where pitting is not a must track position is everything.”

Still, if Pearl is anything at the Speedbowl, he is the master of the restart. It is, he says, a useful tool at a place as competitive as the Speedbowl. “We prepare our car for restarts,” he says. “Getting by on a restart is a lot easier than burning up tires trying to pass a guy for 10 laps. Coming down for a restart my mind set is, ‘this may be my only chance to get him.’”

Pearl, who took the lead in last year’s 150 on late-race restart, actually keeps a mental “book” on how other drivers restart.

The championship runs begin with extra-distance Mod Nats features for the Late Models (50), Sportsman (30) and Mini Stocks (30) as well. The Legends, the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites, the Pro4 Modifieds, AllStar Race Trucks and Allison Legacy Cars are also on the docket.

Sources: Dave Dykes/Waterford Speedbowl PR

February 2008
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