Bluffton, South Carolina rookie Gus Dean turned some heads today in his first attempt at Daytona Int'l Speedway, logging the fastest speed in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards open testing aboard a Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM) Chevrolet.
Dean circled the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 47.428 seconds, for an average speed of 189.761 mph.
"This was my first time in the draft," Dean said.
"Talking to the veterans, watching the videos, and playing the video games do nothing to prepare you for that first time you're in a pack of cars heading into a corner. The feeling is indescribable."
Dean was the leader of the pack in a three-car draft that included his MMM teammates, fellow rookies Spencer Boyd and Noah Gragson.
"I was leading the pack of all three Mitchell Motorsports cars and caught the draft of the cars in front of us. It feels great to be on top of the board my first time here.
"I can't thank Mason Mitchell Motorsports enough for their hard work and preparation this weekend. I was surprised at how tight this track is for how big it is."
As you might expect, the other two MMM cars in the draft with Dean were second and third on the chart, giving MMM a complete a sweep at the top of the board.
Boyd, also in a Chevy, was second quickest at 189,693 mph in front of his teammate Gragson, who was third at 189.677 mph in a Ford.
"I had experienced the draft a little bit when I ran the Kentucky (Speedway) race...the difference here is that you don't lift," Gragson said.
"I felt real solid running with my teammates Spencer and Gus when we put up that lap. It was really fun. I can see though where a guy could get himself in trouble. I want to thank Mason Mitchell Motorsports for their effort today."
A pair of Hylton-Empire Racing 48 Ford Fusions was fourth and fifth fastest on the board with rookie Dylan Lupton and veteran Sean Corr at the helms. Lupton edged his teammate Corr with a speed of 189.247 mph. Corr completed the top-five with a speed of 189.243 mph.
Lupton was also involved in an early-afternoon incident that included both Kimmel Racing Fords. Lupton's driveshaft broke just ahead of Grant Quinlan and Nick Higdon in turns three and four. Both Quinlan and Higdon made contact with the outer retaining wall as a result, causing extensive damage to both machines. Lupton was able to return for some late-afternoon runs while Kimmel Racing packed up and went home. There were no injuries.
Newcomer Brett Holmes was sixth fastest in a No. 18 Ford with a speed of 189.139 mph.
Series veteran Tom Hessert, switching to Venturini Motorsports for the 2016 season, was seventh in Venturini's No. 25 flagship Toyota at 188.957 mph.
Jeff Myers, Jr., the 2015 ARCA Truck Series champion, looked sharp in his superspeedway debut, logging the eighth fastest speed at 188.881 mph in a Lira Motorsports Ford.
Newcomer Shane Lee, in a Win-Tron Racing Toyota, was ninth overall at 188.616 mph. Clayton Weatherman, also making his superspeedway debut, was 10th at 188.490 mph in a Lira Motorsports Ford. Weatherman is the younger brother of 2015 SCOTT Rookie of the Year Kyle Weatherman.
In all, a whopping 64 drivers posted time and speed today at the "World Center of Racing" in preparation for the season-opening 53rd annual Lucas Oil 200 coming Saturday, February 13. Saturday's test was delayed by an hour-and-a-half due to morning fog.
ARCA Racing Series open testing is scheduled to resume at Daytona Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. ARCAracing.com will feature live timing and scoring and live chat for all on-track activities.
ARCA Racing PR