In the midst of nearly a seven-week sabbatical from ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards racing, driver Gus Dean (@gusdean) is staying busy.
Whether it’s working through media obligations for his marketing partner GREE, helping with the family-owned company Dean Custom Air or even racing his Super Late Model, the Bluffton, S.C. native is staying busy.
With some ARCA Racing Series testing on the horizon later this month and on the heels of a top-five performance in the final race in the 51st annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway two weeks ago, Dean is heading back to his roots of local short track racing.
Aboard his No. 56 GREE / Baker Dist. / CAB Installers Chevrolet, the 22-year-old will compete in Saturday afternoon’s Circle Track Warehouse 200 CARS Tour Super Late Model season-opener at Concord (N.C.) Speedway.
The effort will be spearheaded by industry veteran and Dean Racing leader Petey Hinson.
“I can’t wait to have a lot of fun this weekend at Concord,” said Dean. “We really built some momentum towards the end of World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna a couple weeks ago and I’m ready to keep that going on Saturday. I’m anxious to get back in an ARCA car too, but this is a good diversion until the schedule starts picking up.”
With plenty of experience and modest success at Concord, Dean says he is looking forward to the opportunity to put his No. 56 GREE / Baker Dist. / CAB Installers Chevrolet up front and in contention for the 200-lap race Saturday afternoon.
“Concord is a relatively small track, but it’s very much a finesse track,” added Dean. “Qualifying is pretty crucial to success there. Petey (Hinson, crew chief) has some good notes that we should help us put our GREE car near the front in qualifying. From there, it’s taking care of our stuff and being around for the end to contend for a good finish.”
During the off-season, the CARS Tour announced several rule changes to the tour, including the introduction to knockout qualifying. Additionally, the sanctioning body will introduce two live pit stops for position to remove items placed by officials on each side of the car.
“For us, there’s been a lot to digest when it comes to the CARS Tour,” added Dean. “I like the knockout qualifying deal. Should be a lot of fun. The whole live pit stop will make for interesting strategy and execution. I’m interested to see how it all pans out. Hopefully for us, it’s on the good side.”
When it comes to a good finish – Dean would be satisfied with a top-five, but he’s looking for his first career win in CARS Tour competition.
“I have a win under the old CARS Pro Cup banner, but not under their newest CARS Tour format, so I really want that checkered flag,” added Dean. “Between GREE, Baker Dist., CAB Installers and Dean Custom Air – there’s plenty of reasons to run good. No doubt a good performance on Saturday will help me from a morale boost until we get in the car at Nashville next month.”
Keeping Dean in the saddle between Late Model racing, testing and simulators has kept the ARCA winner busy, but more importantly focused on bouncing back from a disappointing Daytona.
After qualifying mid-pack, Dean raced his way inside the top-10 in the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 driven by General Tire only to have his charge stalled after being hit by another competitor just past the halfway point.
Dean says while it’s been tough to swallow the finish at Daytona, it’s behind him and his Win-Tron Racing team are surging ahead with focus and attention on the future.
“Our ARCA season is just getting started and we’ve already taken our mulligan,” mentioned Dean. “That’s OK though. The guys at the shop are working hard. We have a brand new short track car done, another car almost done and another car behind that.
“It’s very busy at the shop. The guys are really focused. It’s neat to walk in there and see all the motivation. They believe in me. They believe in themselves and they believe in the dream we’re after.
“That’s all that matters.”
Dean tweets too. Follow him on Twitter @GusDean.
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.
Chris Knight (@Knighter01)