Not even a chaotic final two laps in Friday’s ZOMONGO 200 at Michigan International Speedway could derail a strong performance from Gus Dean and his Win-Tron Racing team.
The Bluffton, S.C. native stood firm during the 100-lap race and quickly muscled from his seventh-place qualifying position to hustle inside the top-five by Lap five and kept his No. 32 GREE Cooling Products | Baker Distributing Chevrolet SS a contender for a majority of the eighth race of the season.
By halfway, the 23-year-old was nestled in fourth but was wresting a loose race car. As the field separated during a long green flag run, approaching 30 laps to go, Dean was preparing to make his final pit stop under green flag conditions, however, Dean noticed a piece of debris in Turn 1 – which ultimately brought out a caution with his Chevrolet on fumes.
Making it to pit road with just enough fuel in the tank, a good pit stop by the Win-Tron Racing sent their driver back into battle and restarting second.
Starting on the bottom was a detriment to Dean, but a quick caution gave Dean another opportunity to make the inside lane work.
Restarting the race with 14 laps to go, and with no grip, Dean fell through the field to sixth for a lap before vaulting back to fifth. Continuing to march his way forward, Dean challenged for third against Michael Self, but close-quarters with a slower car sent the former ARCA winner into the wall and allowed the other cars from behind to close the gap considerably.
With a damaged car, Dean still fought for his rightful space in the Irish Hills and held off Joe Graf Jr. over the final four-miles to earn his first top-five finish of 2018 and his third top-10 of 2018.
The effort was a continued boost for the Mooresville, N.C.-based team after finishing sixth a week prior at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
Overall, it was also Dean’s fifth top-15 finish and seventh top-20 result in his sophomore season of full-time ARCA competition.