Gleason and Auberlen Take Grand-Am Cup Point Lead With Fourth-Place Finish Saturday At Barber Motorsports Park LEEDS, Ala., July 29 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and his co-driver, Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., took the lead in the...
Gleason and Auberlen Take Grand-Am Cup Point Lead With Fourth-Place Finish Saturday At Barber Motorsports Park
LEEDS, Ala., July 29 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and his co-driver, Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif., took the lead in the overall Grand-Am Cup point standings by finishing fourth in the Barber Park 200 Saturday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park here.
With three races remaining they have 168 points to the 167 held by another one of their Turner Motorsports teammates, Anders Hainer. Patrick Long and Brent Martini are next in line with 165 points, followed by Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly with 164.
Saturday's race on Barber Motorsports Park's 2.3-mile, 16-turn road course ended a half-hour early due to a thunderstorm. Prior to that the event was held under hot and humid conditions that proved challenging to the set-up on Gleason and Auberlen's BMW M3.
Gleason started 16th in the 66-car field but right away he found the car's handling characteristics very challenging due to the heat. He dropped back to 20th by lap four, passed a few cars, and then got caught in a battle with Joe Nonnamaker and Jason Workman.
"I had a bad start," he said afterwards. "I missed a shift once, and the car and the engine just didn't feel right to me due to the heat. I didn't manage my tires very well, and the handling got pretty evil."
By lap 20 he was in 21st place with the car, which is sponsored in part by Gleason Financial. Auberlen got in about five laps later and started his charge back up through the field, breaking into the top 10 on lap 34.
Auberlen was in third place behind only Stu Hayner and Terry Borcheller with 59 minutes remaining in what was originally supposed to be a two-and-a-half-hour race. He was in fourth when a full-course caution waved for the impending storm on lap 51, and the race was called complete on lap 55 with 1:46.07 gone.
"My best lap time was close to Bill's, but he ran more consistently in traffic than I did," Gleason said. "Our team had great pit strategy though, which helped. I brought the car in when we were in about 27th place or something, and then Bill fought up to 11th or 12th. Then some other guys made pit stops and that helped move us up to fourth. Then it started raining very hard and they called the race.
"The track was greasy from the heat all day though," Gleason added. "The sun was really beating down.
"In these kinds of races you really need to keep the car on the track," he noted. "If you go off you're going to end up in a gravel trap or a tire wall. I realized the car didn't feel real good to me and I wasn't having a great day, so I just wanted to keep it in one piece and give it to the Rocket Man in good shape."
The Playboy Racing Mustang GT No. 15 of Michael McDowell and Rob Finlay won Saturday's race by pitting as soon as its fuel window opened and then waiting for the rain. The Rehagen Racing Mustang GT No. 59 of Dean Martin and Ray Mason ended up second, while the Automatic Racing BMW M3 No. 90 of Terry Borcheller and Jeff Segal finished third, right in front of Gleason and Auberlen's BMW.
The next Grand-Am Cup race is coming right up next weekend at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
"I haven't been there for a couple years, and I'm excited about it," Gleason said. "We're the feature race up there, so it should be fun."