South Carolina’s Gus Dean Honors Grandfather With Prestigious Daytona Win

South Carolina’s Gus Dean Honors Grandfather With Prestigious Daytona Win

by February 17, 2024 1 comment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Gus Dean, a native of Bluffton, S.C., earned the biggest victory of his career when he held off the pack to win the DAYTONA ARCA 200 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday morning.

Dean is no stranger to the ARCA Menards Series, racing both part-time and full-time for seven seasons. While he has visited Victory Lane on two occasions (Talladega 2016, Elko 2018), a crown jewel win at Daytona has eluded him in the seven starts prior to this weekend.

Back in January, Dean’s grandfather, Charles Edward Dean passed away at 86-years-old due to a short illness. He was a native of Hartsville, S.C. and was known throughout the garage area as “Granddaddy”.  On Friday night, Dean placed his grandfather’s nickname above the window net and took to the high banks of Daytona with an internal fire burning just a little brighter.

Due to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race running late, the ARCA Menards Series raced through the night and into the early hours of Saturday, and in the end, fans were treated to an overtime finish.

Venturini Motorsports’ Jake Finch and Dean brought the field down to the green flag for the final time in a green-white restart. Dean took off on the low line and was able to secure the lead as the field entered Turn 2 for the final time thanks to drafting help from Andres Perez.

“The Venturini cars always work very well together,” Dean said. “We always try to do the teammate restart – we did the restart before that one. I love Jake, he’s a great kid. He’s a helluva race car driver. He’s got a big, bright future ahead of him – I just didn’t have it in me to do the teammate restart there with one (lap) to go. I had a little bit of a special reason for tonight, and I came here with one mission.”

Down the backstretch, Dean jumped way out in front of the pack. Finch, who was catching Dean, made contact with Perez and crashed hard in Turn 3. Many drivers were caught up in the accident, including Perez who climbed the outside wall. The caution immediately came out, and Dean was declared the winner of the prestigious race. The victory also marked the 100th series win for Venturini Motorsports.

“I started racing when I was 4-year-old at a tiny little dirt track in South Georgia,” Dean said. “It has been a whole lot of miles, a whole lot of work and a whole lot of people behind me.

“My granddad came to every race I ever ran, and in every single one, he would tell me to get what I can. Even at the end when I would call him on the phone. Well tonight, we got what we could. It might not be the (DAYTONA) 500. I might not be the biggest race, but it is the biggest colosseum, and for a small-town kid from Bluffton, South Carolina, this is everything.”

Thomas Annunziata finished runner-up, followed by last year’s winner, Greg Van Alst. Christian Rose and Tim Richmond rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Jason Kitzmiller, Gil Linster, Alex Clubb, Amber Balcaen and Any Jankowiak.

On Friday, March 8, the ARCA Menards Series will return to action at Phoenix Raceway for the General Tire 150. The race will broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

Photo Credit: Mitchell White/

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