TOLEDO, Ohio – Fighting back from late race adversity, Gus Dean (@gusdean) in his No. 32 GREE Cooling Products Toyota Camry finished a solid seventh in Sunday’s Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway.
The finish was Dean’s third consecutive top-10 finish in five races aboard the Kevin Cywinski-owned machine.
“We had a solid day and that’s what we need to have with our No. 32 GREE Toyota to stay in the championship fight,” said Dean. “Our GREE Toyota was really good at the end of the race, we just ran out of laps to get a better finish. We’ll keep digging.”
During practice on Saturday, crew chief Todd Myers focused on their race pace with the Bluffton, S.C., putting little emphasis on their qualifying run. The strategy put Dean 11th quickest overall.
For the third time this season, Mother Nature forced ARCA to cancel series qualifying with the Menards 200 lineup set by practice speeds Saturday afternoon.
Ready to go racing just after 2:00 p.m., Mother Nature doused the track with a heavy rain shower delaying the fifth race of the season for nearly an hour. Strapped in and ready to roll, the event took the green flag a short time later with Dean minding his manners and hovering just outside the top-10 during the early stages of the race.
Approaching Lap 40, Dean muscled his way inside the top-10 only to be stalled when the caution flag waved for a spin on the frontstretch. Reporting a tight No. 32 GREE Toyota, Myers brought his SCOTT Rookie driver to pit road for two tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to loosen the race car.
Quickly following the Lap 51 restart, Dean reported to his crew that felt like he was losing power dropping him to 10th in the running order. A few laps later, the field was frozen under caution again with the 22-year-old reporting the engine issue appeared to resolve itself.
While sitting 10th, Myers took the yellow for a chance to bring his driver back to pit road for fuel and adjustments.
Restarting 13th, Dean fired off well and despite only getting a few laps in, he reported that his GREE Toyota was handling much better.
By Lap 85, the Win-Tron Racing development driver rocketed to ninth and passed Vinnie Miller shortly before the halfway mark to eighth where he remained thereafter.
A caution nearing Lap 120 allowed Dean to pit for four tires, another chassis adjustment and a half can of Sunoco Racing fuel aligning himself ninth for the restart.
A lap after the Lap 130 restart, Dean found himself trying to avoid the slowing car of Austin Nemire when he turned down on Dean into Turn 3 and the contact shoved both race cars up the racetrack, collecting Shane Lee in the process.
With damage to the right front and side of Dean’s Toyota, the 2016 ARCA Talladega winner pitted for repairs and restarted 13th.
Throughout the race’s final 56 laps, Dean methodically worked from the back of the pack and passed former Snowball Derby champion Christian Eckes for seventh inside the final 10 laps of the race to claim his second consecutive top-10 finish at the iconic half-mile short track.
“The crash with Austin and Shane was a bad deal,” offered Dean. “The No. 10 car literally stopped on the backstretch and I had to go low and then I felt like he drove me down to the grass in Turn 3. I know Shane’s car was destroyed. He’s my buddy and one of my best friends on the ARCA scene. I’m glad he’s OK.
“Once we could get our No. 32 GREE Toyota handling the way we wanted too, I felt like we really had something for the top-five. We’ll get the car fixed up and take her to Elko. It’s a good piece and Elko is Kevin’s stomping grounds. We expect to go there and do well. Just want to thank the team and GREE for their support. Without them, I would not be here.”
Unofficially, Dean’s finish on Sunday propelled him inside the top-five in the championship standings ahead of the June 3 running of the Shore Lunch 250 at Elko (Wisc.) Speedway. Dean will make his debut at the 3/8-mile short track.
For more on Gus Dean, please visit his all new website at GusDean.com or like him on Facebook.
Dean tweets too. Follow him on Twitter @GusDean.
To learn more about GREE Racing and their expansion into Motorsports, please hop on GREERacing.com or follow them on Twitter @GREE_Racing.
Follow Win-Tron Racing on Twitter @WinTronRacing, like on Facebook (WinTron Racing) or click on WinTronRacing.com.
In 1991, GREE set out to make the world a cooler place. To this end, we’ve become a global leader in air conditioners, developing some of the most advanced commercial and residential air conditioners in the world. Based in Zhuhai, China, GREE is now the world’s largest specialized air conditioner company integrating R&D, manufacturing, sales and service. It’s our mission to innovate and create new ways to help people live well and stay comfortable no matter where they live, work or play.
About Win-Tron Racing:
Located in Mooresville, North Carolina, Win-Tron Racing is a professional race team headquartered in “Race City USA.” Owned by former racer Kevin Cywinski, the team will compete for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship in 2017 with driver Gus Dean in the No. 32 GREE Toyota Camry. The team will also field a second entry in the No. 33 Toyota Camry with Justin Fontaine and others. Learn more at WinTronRacing.com or on Twitter @WinTronRacing.