Bluffton native Gus Dean heads to Madison, Wis., International Speedway on the strength of three consecutive top-five finishes and hopes to make it four in Friday night’s Montgomery Ward 200, part of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Dean, SCOTT Rookie of the Year leader, was headed toward a podium finish in the Irish Hills, but a blown tire exiting Turn 2 on the last lap sent him from third to fifth.
Not all was lost though, as Dean wrestled his bruised car to its sixth top-10 finish of 2017.
Looking at the misfortune in a positive way, Dean heads to another new track for the fifth time in 2017, eyeing his second career ARCA victory and first with Win-Tron Racing.
“I’m extremely proud of this Win-Tron Racing team,” said Dean. “Our No. 32 GREE Cooling Products Toyota was stout that last run, and we were able to get a lot of spots. We fought the battles of Michigan, and it’s going to make us stronger in the long run.”
Dean is returning to short track form for the fifth time this season. His team’s short track program is led by crew chief Todd Myers. Outside of a mechanical failure at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in April, Dean has posted a second, seventh and fifth in his last three outings.
Armed with the same No. 32 GREE Toyota that finished second at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in April and most recently fifth on the tight and treacherous Elko (Minn.) Speedway, Dean looks to Friday night’s race as an opportunity to keep the team’s momentum rocking entering the halfway point of the season.
“Our season didn’t get started off too well with getting collected in a wreck at Daytona and had a mechanical failure at Nashville,” sounded Dean. “Since then though we’ve been working extremely hard to make sure our program gets stronger with every passing week and race. “We still have some work to do, but we’re marching forward and not backward. I want GREE back in Victory Lane so bad. Hopefully, we can do that Friday night.”
Tightly fitted in a current race for third in the championship standings, Dean says his team is focused on performances.
With strong results, they know the points will tally.
“I don’t consider us out of this championship yet,” added Dean. “We’re not going to go down though without a fight. We just gotta keep top-fiving them and see what happens.
“Just like every full-time team, we’re keeping an eye on it. There’s going to be a lot of wild card races coming up this summer that could open the door for us to gain a lot of ground. At the end of the day, we just want to put ourselves in a good spot for finishes and hopefully, the points will take care of themselves.”
In 15 ARCA Racing Series starts, Dean captured his first career victory in his second ever start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway after starting second in April 2016. Overall, Dean has five top-five and nine top-10 finishes and has led 21 laps in ARCA competition.
The Montgomery Ward 200 (200 laps/100 miles) is the ninth of 20 races on the 2017 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule.
Practice will be from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Friday. General Tire pole qualifying is set for 6 p.m., with the race starting at 9 p.m. The event will be broadcast live on MAVTV, while ARCARacing.com will stream live timing and scoring throughout the week’s activities.