Daytona 24: Chris Gleason race report

Gleason Gets a Top-10 Finish in GT Class at Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and his co-drivers of the ...

Gleason Gets a Top-10 Finish in GT Class at Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 1 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and his co-drivers of the #68 Racer's Group Porsche ended up ninth in the GT class at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway after running as high as second in class.

Their effort was set back about three-quarters of the way through the race when their car was involved in an accident in Turn 1 as Ian James had contact with a Ferrari being driven by Jim Michaelian. Neither was injured but the #68 suffered extensive damages and the crash cost it a higher finishing position.

In addition to Gleason and James, the #68's other drivers were R.J. Valentine, Abraham Zimroth and Bodhan Kroczek.

The event will always be remembered for the rainy conditions which caused slippery track conditions, standing puddles, extensive spray and horrible vision for all the competitors. The extensive storm system and a shortage of rain tires caused the race to go under the yellow flag for some three hours and the red flag for some three hours more. The red flag was only the second time that this race has been stopped completely.

Gleason is extremely good on a wet track though, so he tried to take the poor conditions in stride.

"It was slippery and the visibility was very poor," he said. "I had one incident when I broke too late in turn one once; I spun and continued on," he said. "Other than that and the normal few bumps now and then, I didn't have any incidents.

"The accident we had with Michaelian really hurt our team though," Gleason explained. "We got it back to the garage before the red came out, but it needed extensive repairs. At least we finished ninth and got some points. Everybody did a great job; we ran anywhere from third to fifth most of the race. In a 24-hour race you try to cover all the bases, but you still need good luck."

Although he was disappointed to see a top-five finish turn into a top-10, Gleason was delighted that the Orbit Racing team won the class and finished second overall. The drivers of that Porsche included Joe and Jay Policastro of Greensburg, Pa.; Mike Fitzgerald of Fountain Hills, Ariz.; Robin Liddel of Scotland and Johnny Mowlem of England.

"I'm so happy for Joe and Jay Policastro; they have paid their dues and nobody deserves a victory more than them," Gleason said. "I'm ecstatic about it. They are from Latrobe and they're old friends."

Another thing that Gleason is happy about is that under his agreement with The Racer's Group, he and R.J. Valentine will campaign the team's lead car, the #66, for the rest of the season in the Rolex Series. James will be the third driver for the longer races.

"It's a terrific car and a great crew; all the components are coming together," Gleason said. "I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season."

The Rolex 24 was covered extensively on the SPEED Channel, which also has the rights to broadcast the other 11 Rolex Series races this year. The next one is slated for the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., Feb. 26-28. It'll be 250 miles long and the track has been recently changed, so it will be very challenging also. That race is being run in conjunction with an Indy Racing League IndyCar event.

Photos of Gleason's car can be downloaded at www.restartcommunications.com and www.theracersgroup.com.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ian James , Chris Gleason , Johnny Mowlem , Jim Michaelian , R.J. Valentine , Abraham Zimroth , Jay Policastro