Ryan Gustin has reached uncharted territory with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models.
As the Series prepares for the third annual Dairyland Showdown at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wi, on May 4-6, the “Reaper” is tied for third in the standings—his highest point in three years on tour.
With a top five and four top 10s in the season’s first six races, his consistency has positioned him 26 points behind points leader Chris Madden.
However, while his rise near the top of the standings seems constant, it hasn’t come without personnel changes. After former crew chief, Brett Ladehoff, decided to come off the road full-time at the end of 2022, Gustin searched for the missing piece to fill that spot.
That’s when he found Taylon Center, the missing piece to compliment himself and tire specialist Noah Bushman.
The addition of Center, who previously worked with Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hudson O’Neal, has paid off despite some struggles in Florida.
“It’s been good,” Gustin said. “Obviously, in Florida, we had some ups and downs. We won East Bay, and then we kind of struggled at Volusia a little bit. But that’s Florida, man. You’re going to take your lumps there; it seems like.
“I don’t think we’ve really struggled outside of Florida. So, I feel like it’s been really good.”
Despite those Speedweeks struggles, one of the reasons he’s near the top of the World of Outlaws standings is his improvement at Volusia Speedway Park during Series competition.
In 2022, Gustin didn’t finish better than 25th in six starts at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.” But he turned it around this season with a top five and two top 10s in four races.
“I think the last two years we’ve been down there, we’ve made maybe 10 percent of the shows,” Gustin said. “It definitely was a big improvement from the last two years for sure.”
While Gustin has been consistent with the World of Outlaws, he’s also been a threat to win in other events.
He won a Feature at East Bay in February and scored a win at Paragon Speedway earlier this month—a place he’d never seen before that night.
It was a win that gave him momentum, something Gustin isn’t taking for granted.
“It was different for sure for a big Late Model around there compared to Midgets and Sprint Cars and what they usually run,” Gustin said. “It wasn’t World of Outlaws competition, but we’ll take them any way we can get them.”
That momentum propelled him into a weekend where he scored a third at Talladega and 10th at 411 Motor Speedway, vaulting him from sixth to third in the standings.
READ MORE: Chris Madden Stays on Top after 411, Talladega
But while his rise near the top of the standings has him in uncharted territory, his focus is still on one thing – winning.
“We’re sitting  points out of the lead,” Gustin said. “We’re right there with a lot of people too. All we have to do is outrun them. It’s like that every night. We’re here to win, and that’s what we plan on doing.”
Gustin and the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models head to Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, WI, on May 4-6 for the third annual Dairyland Showdown, including the second $50,000-to-win race of the season.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online on with the DIRTVision App.