SCC: Birmingham: Chris Gleason race report

Gleason and Auberlen Finish 20th Sunday In KONI Challenge Race at Barber Motorsports Park BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 22 - Chris Gleason and Bill Auberlen's hopes for a podium finish in Sunday's KONI Challenge GS race at Barber Motorsports Park ...

Gleason and Auberlen Finish 20th Sunday In KONI Challenge Race at Barber Motorsports Park

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 22 - Chris Gleason and Bill Auberlen's hopes for a podium finish in Sunday's KONI Challenge GS race at Barber Motorsports Park were dashed about a quarter of the way through the race when actor and part-time racer Patrick Dempsey caused Auberlen to spin off course and into a gravel trap off Turn 8.

Dempsey, who has the nickname "Doctor McDreamy" for his role in the TV show "Grey's Anatomy," apologized to them afterwards, but the incident relegated Gleason and Auberlen's Turner Motorsport BMW M3 No. 96 to a 20th-place finish out of the 38 cars that competed in the two-and-a-half-hour race.

Dempsey was dealing with brakes problems with his Mustang when the incident occurred.

Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., qualified 16th and drove the first stint in the BMW, which is sponsored in part by Gleason Financial. He survived the action-packed start and turned the car over to Auberlen in great shape under the second full-course yellow on lap 11 when Tim George Jr. stopped in Turn 6.

Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, Calif., was all set to make his patented charge until the problem with Dempsey occurred on lap 20, 38 minutes into the race, bringing out the event's third full-course caution.

The problem cost the No. 96 two laps, only one of which it was able to make up before Andy Lally took the checkered flag in a Porsche on lap 82. A sister car to Gleason and Auberlen's BMW driven by Don Salama and Will Turner placed second, 31.199 seconds behind.

The next KONI Challenge race is Aug. 18 at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.

For more information about the series, see grand-am.com and konichallenge.com. For more information on Gleason, see gleasoninc.com.

Gleason's post-race quote follows:

"We chased the handling all weekend, but sometimes that happens. We compromised on some things to try to improve, but neither car did that well in qualifying. It was very hot and humid, and that goes a long way towards contributing to not finding the best set-up sometimes.

"I started the race, and there was the usual bumping at the start. Then things settled down. I wasn't very comfortable with the car, but I more or less held my position.

"There was a full-course caution pretty early, but I stayed out. Our plan was to try to get Bill in the car at about the 30-minute mark. That worked well, because there was another caution about then so I pitted and he took over.

"Patrick Dempsey had a problem with his brakes, and he was skidding off the track a lot. At one point he braked and knocked Bill into a gravel trap, and we lost two laps. We got one lap back, but the competition is so stiff that our race was over for all intents and purposes at that point. Dempsey came over later and apologized, but I wish he'd come into the pits instead of staying out when he was having a problem with his car.

"Our team car had a better result; they finished second. The team got second in the ST race on Saturday too, so at least it had two good finishes this weekend.

"Bill and I are out of the points championship, so now our only objective for these last three races is to win. But it wasn't anything mechanical with the car that did us in this weekend; it was a problem with another competitor."

-credit: restart communications

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Andy Lally , Will Turner , Chris Gleason , Don Salama , Patrick Dempsey , Tim George Jr.
Teams Turner Motorsport