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Gus Dean, driver of the #55 Dean Custom Air Toyota, on the grid before the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire for the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on February 19, 2021. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)
Gus Dean (Photo: Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

NOTEBOOK: Venturini Motorsports, Toyota Racing give Gus Dean a ‘new element’ at Kansas

Gus Dean wasn’t originally scheduled to race at Kansas Speedway this weekend in the Dutch Boy 150 (Saturday on FS1, 1 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET), but sometimes schedules change.

Dean, who signed on to compete in three ARCA Menards Series races with Venturini Motorsports this season, added Kansas to his schedule following a pair of top-five finishes to open his limited schedule at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

“We were really happy with everything that took place at Daytona and Talladega,” said Dean, who is also scheduled to race for Venturini Motorsports at Michigan International Speedway in August. “Obviously I’ve run against the Venturinis for a long, long time, and I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for them. They’ve always treated us with a lot of kindness and respect.

“After Daytona and Talladega, everything just went so well that we knew we wanted to do some more (races). I am a sponsor-based driver, so it depended a lot on sponsorship, and fortunately enough, Toyota was able to come on board and help us out along with Mobil 1. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be able to drive for them.”

RELATED: Everything to know about the Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas

Dean is a veteran of the ARCA Menards Series with 57 starts under his belt dating back to 2016. He also has two ARCA victories, one at Talladega and one at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway.

During that time, he’s driven for a number of teams and manufacturers, but he says this is the first time in his career he’s had the best equipment available to pair with his skills on the race track.

“Toyota, in my opinion, just really set the bar for manufacturer involvement in the sport,” said Dean, who in addition to his ARCA Menards Series schedule will be getting married to his fiancé Briar in October. “I’ve run several different manufacturers, and Toyota has been top notch all the way through. Putting their drivers in the simulators, their involvement with the teams, the aerodynamics. TRD is an amazing company.”

Saturday’s race will be Dean’s fifth in ARCA Menards Series competition at Kansas. He’s not had much luck at the 1.5-mile paved tri-oval in his first four ARCA starts at the venue, earning a best finish of 10th in his last event at the track in 2019.

He firmly believes that the combination of Venturini Motorsports and Toyota will help him drastically improve those results.

“Kansas is one of those intermediate tracks that is very, very greatly dependent on aerodynamics,” Dean explained. “The Venturinis, with TRD, have invested so much time into their aerodynamic program, especially for the intermediates. I really think that’s just going to bring forth a whole new element to my intermediate experience. I really think I’ll be able to showcase what I feel I’m able to do and what the equipment that I’ll be in is able to do.

“I’ve always liked racing intermediate tracks, I’ve just never really had the technology backing that I feel the intermediates really require. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, with that technology behind me and a team like Venturini, especially with a manufacturer like Toyota, (to see) what we’ll be able to do.”

Rev Racing riding momentum into Kansas

Nick Sanchez, driver of the #2 Max Siegel, Inc. Chevrolet at the Reese’s 150 for the ARCA Menards Series at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, on October 23, 2021. (Cassie Florido/ARCA Racing)
Nick Sanchez during the Reese’s 150 for the ARCA Menards Series at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 23, 2021. (Photo: Cassie Florido/ARCA Racing)

Things couldn’t be going better for Rev Racing’s Rajah Caruth and Nick Sanchez.

Entering the Dutch Boy 150 at Kansas, Caruth leads the ARCA Menards Series standings for the first time in his young career. Sanchez, meanwhile, heads to Kansas as the most recent race winner in the series following his victory at Talladega Superspeedway in April.

Caruth has finished no worse than 11th in the first three ARCA Menards Series races this season. He has finishes of fourth and sixth in his last two races, which included leading his first laps in the ARCA Menards Series during the General Tire 200 at Talladega.

That consistency has helped Caruth move to the top of the series standings early in the season, a position he’s hoping to maintain throughout the remainder of the year.

Sanchez’s win at Talladega helped catapult him up the series standings to third, four points behind his teammate. His maiden ARCA victory came last year at Kansas Speedway, making Sanchez one of the favorites going into Friday’s Dutch Boy 150.

In his two ARCA Menards Series wins, Sanchez has led a total of three laps. He’ll look to add to that number Saturday afternoon when the field takes the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. CT / 2 p.m. ET live on FS1.

Arnout Kok returns to America and ARCA

South Africa’s Arnout Kok returns to ARCA Menards Series competition for the first time this season at Kansas Speedway.

Kok, who made his ARCA Menards platform debut last season at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a ninth-place finish, also competed Watkins Glen International and Kansas Speedway during his first foray into ARCA.

The 45-year-old will once again drive for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing team, the same group he drove for last season.

He has extensive racing experience all over the globe, including competing in Formula Ford, Formula Asia, Historic F1, Formula Junior, Formula GTI, Legends and Late Models.

Notes:

  • Ron Vandermeir Jr., a multi-time Mid-Am Racing Series champion, will make his first ARCA Menards Series start of the season in the Dutch Boy 150. He competed in three events last year, earning a best finish of 11th at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway.
  • The Dutch Boy 150 will be the 27th ARCA Menards Series race at Kansas Speedway. The first race, held on June 3, 2001, was won by Jason Jarrett, son of 1999 NASCAR Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett. 
  • Only two drivers in the field for the Dutch Boy 150 have victories at Kansas Speedway. One is the aforementioned Nick Sanchez. The other is Venturini Motorsports driver Corey Heim, who earned his first series victory at Kansas in 2020.
  • After making his ARCA Menards Series East debut last weekend at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Matt Wilson will make his ARCA Menards Series debut at Kansas Speedway. He’s scheduled to drive the No. 7 Toyota for owner Eric Caudell.