SCC: Chris Gleason Daytona preview

Gleason Entered in Super Bowl Of Endurance Sports Car Racing This Weekend at Daytona JOHNSTOWN, Pa., Jan. 22 - The Steelers may not have made it to the Super Bowl this year, but Western Pennsylvania sports fans have someone representing them in...

Gleason Entered in Super Bowl Of Endurance Sports Car Racing This Weekend at Daytona

JOHNSTOWN, Pa., Jan. 22 - The Steelers may not have made it to the Super Bowl this year, but Western Pennsylvania sports fans have someone representing them in the Super Bowl of endurance sports car racing this weekend.

Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. is entered in both Friday's KONI Challenge race and the 45th annual Rolex 24 on Saturday and Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Teams typically use two drivers per car for the three-hour KONI Challenge race. As its name suggests the Rolex 24 takes 24 hours, and most cars in it have four different drivers.

In "real life" Gleason is the chief executive officer and president of Gleason Financial, part of the Gleason Group headquartered in Johnstown. But for years he's also successfully competed at the top levels of endurance sports car racing at some of the best racetracks in the world.

Gleason will drive one of 72 cars entered in the Rolex 24, a race that has once again attracted a star-studded field from many different series. He'll compete against NASCAR's Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya, as well as IndyCar's Sam Hornish Jr., Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon, and Champ Car's Paul Tracy and Oriol Servia. Many of America's top endurance sports car drivers are entered too, such as Jorg Bergmeister, Colin Braun, Andy Lally, Bill Auberlen, Jan Magnussen, Christian Fittipaldi, Terry Borcheller, Scott Pruett, Max Papis, Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli.

"For me, at this stage of my career, it's an honor to be on the same track at the same time with these guys who are household names," Gleason said.

Gleason is one of four drivers assigned to The Racers Group (TRG) Porsche GT3 Cup No. 68 in the Rolex 24 on Saturday and Sunday. The other three drivers of that car are Ted Ballou of Corona del Mar, Calif.; Rocco DeSimone II of Johnston, R.I., and Brad Jaeger of Cincinnati. In addition to Gleason Financial, the Porsche will be sponsored by Mitchell Global.

Gleason has driven with this team successfully in the past. In 2003 a TRG Porsche driven by Kevin Buckler, Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard and Bergmeister won the Rolex 24 overall.

"The Racers Group are really Porsche experts," Gleason noted. "If you want to do well in a 24-hour race at Daytona, you increase your chances by being in a Porsche.

"Our strategy will be to be consistent, not take any chances, have good pit stops, and hope that the race will come to us," he added.

FOX Sports and SPEED are working together to offer 15 hours of live coverage of the Rolex 24. The coverage starts from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on FOX Sports. Then SPEED takes over from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The following day its coverage continues from 6 a.m. ET through the checkered flag at 1:30 p.m. ET and the post-race interviews.

Before that twice-around-the-clock enduro Gleason will also compete in the three-hour Fresh From Florida 200 KONI Challenge (formerly called Grand-Am Cup) race at Daytona on Friday afternoon. He and co-driver Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif. will share the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 No. 96 in that race on Daytona's 3.56-mile road course.

Gleason and Auberlen started 51st and finished second in that event last year enroute to a stellar season in that series. They won more races that any other pair last year to help Turner Motorsport win the team championship. Individually they finished tied for third in the driver standings.

"This is our first race of the season; you never know what will happen," Gleason noted. "We hope to be able to be even more consistent than we were last year, score as many points as possible, and win the drivers' championship this time."

Gleason added that after such a challenging schedule this weekend, he's going to take a little break and go on a vacation next week while he's still in Florida.

Although Gleason is entered in the Rolex 24, which is part of the Rolex Series, his primary focus this year as in 2006 will be the KONI Challenge series.

-credit: lm

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Turner Motorsport