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‘This Is Everything’ Gus Dean Takes Home A Wild ARCA Season Opener At Daytona

ARCA Menards Series Gus Dean Daytona

Gus Dean was able to survive the chaos and take home the checkered flag at Daytona. PC: Craig White/TobyChriste.com

Gus Dean triumphantly clinched the checkered flag in a thrilling rollercoaster of a season opener at the Daytona International Speedway for the ARCA Menards Series.

Navigating through the chaos of the superspeedway, Dean’s victory held special significance as he dedicated it to his grandfather, a tribute that added layers of emotion to his triumph.

“I started racing when I was four years old at a tiny little dirt track in south Georgia. It’s been a whole lot of miles, a whole lot of work, and a whole lot of people behind me…For a small-town kid from Bluffton, SC this is everything,” the driver said post-race.

The win for the No. 55 car came dramatically, with a last-lap crash affecting not only Dean’s teammate Jake Finch but also involving other drivers like Andy Jankowiak, and Andres Perez, among others.

Notably, this victory marked the 100th win for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Menards Series, underscoring the team’s enduring legacy in the sport.

However, amidst the celebrations, tensions simmered within the Venturini camp, as fellow teammate Toni Breidinger criticized Dean following a major pileup on lap three that also impacted her and teammate Amber Balcaen, resulting in Breidinger finishing in 37th place.

In a standout performance, Thomas Annunziata secured an impressive second-place finish in his debut ARCA Menards Series race, expressing satisfaction with his achievement while also harboring aspirations for a higher position.

“I’ve never done this before. So I’m happy to get the result that we got,” he said post-race.

Greg Van Alst, last year’s winner, showcased immense resilience but fell just short of victory, settling for third place after a hard-fought battle. Christian Rose and Tim Richmond rounded out the top five, each delivering solid performances.

Gil Linster’s remarkable recovery from an earlier slide in turn three into a seventh-place finish, marking an impressive debut in the ARCA series, while Alex Clubb secured eighth place, bringing home his fourth career top 10.

Despite an early setback in the form of a major crash, Amber Balcaen displayed sheer determination, staging a remarkable comeback to claim ninth place, underscoring her tenacity and skill on the track.

While some felt excitement and joy, others were mired in disappointment and defeat. The most notable going to Willie Mullins and the Mullins Racing team.

After a tough offseason, they were able to come out and sit the No. 3 machine on the pole, only to get caught up in a late-race incident. Destroying their car and coming home 28th.

The ARCA Menards Series heads west next to Phoenix Raceway on March 8th. You can catch the race live on FS1.

Official Results for the ARCA Menards Series Race at Daytona


FinNo.DriverLapsDiffBest Lap
155Gus Dean84---48.608
244Thomas Annunziata*840.44148.45
335Greg Van Alst840.85148.456
432Christian Rose841.71248.342
527Tim Richmond842.03648.847
697Jason Kitzmiller842.41549.003
768Gil Linster*842.74649.182
83Alex Clubb8419.63151.672
922Amber Balcaen8483.1348.256
1073Andy Jankowiak8495.65648.615
1120Jake Finch*830.0248.598
122Andres Perez830.12948.611
1313Armani Williams830.30348.346
1462Steve Lewis Jr.*830.32248.448
156Lavar Scott*830.53348.418
1636Ryan Huff830.64848.38
178Patrick Emerling830.96948.959
1834Issac Johnson*831.07448.45
196Tommy O'Leary IV831.43149.762
2075Bryan Dauzat831.48149.951
2199Michael Maples*831 lap50.082
2248Brad Smith81BTW53.76
2312Ryan Roulette*8027 laps49.377
2418Tanner Gray777 laps48.964
2517Marco Andretti*76OUT48.358
2611Bryce Haugeberg*6915 laps49.881
2769Scott Melton61OUT49.241
283Willie Mullins61OUT48.993
2928Shane Van Gisbergen*5826 laps48.99
308Sean Corr55OUT48.613
312Leland Honeyman Jr.*51OUT48.835
3230Justin Bonsignore*43OUT49.07
334Dale Quarterley40OUT49.041
3474Mandy Chick*17OUT49.702
3593Caleb Costner*14OUT50.166
367Jeff Scofield*6OUT49.93
3725Toni Breidinger3OUT49.778
3815Kris Wright3OUT50.15
3963John Aramendia*3OUT48.853
4010Ed Pompa3OUT49.998
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