Gleason and Hand Finish Fourth At Mid-Ohio on Saturday LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 20 - When Chris Gleason and Joey Hand last raced together at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Hand left in an ambulance after one of the most horrific accidents in ...
Gleason and Hand Finish Fourth At Mid-Ohio on Saturday
LEXINGTON, Ohio, June 20 - When Chris Gleason and Joey Hand last raced together at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Hand left in an ambulance after one of the most horrific accidents in Grand-Am history. Although he escaped serious injury, the BMW they shared that day flipped so many times in that 2006 crash that it became a You-Tube sensation among race fans, (see youtube.com/watch?v=fRC3rv1ZHj4).
Things definitely went better for the pair this year, as Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., and Hand, of Sacramento, Calif., finished fourth with their Turner Motorsport BMW M3 Coupe No. 97 in Saturday's KONI Challenge race at Mid-Ohio.
Their car is sponsored in part of Gleason Financial.
Gleason went into Saturday's race third in the point standings with 146 points to leader Ken Wilden's 169. Wilden and his co-driver, Dean Martin, won on Saturday, but with the strong fourth-place finish Gleason remains one of the top contenders for the season championship.
Gleason qualified sixth on Saturday morning with a time of 1:34.920 for the demanding, 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course, just 1.244 seconds off the time Matt Bell recorded in a sister Turner Motorsport BMW to win the pole for the race, part of the EMCO Gears Classic.
Gleason started the event and drove for about an hour and 15 minutes in the two-and-one-half-hour race, held under hot weather conditions. He got up to fourth twice, once on lap two and again on laps 43 and 44. He spent most of his stint in sixth position, running between two Ford Mustang GTs driven by Jack Roush Jr. and Phil Lasco.
Gleason and Hand's BMW was strong all day. Gleason was able to consistently better his lap times during most of his stint as he continued to gain speed. Hand did the same, and even set the second-fastest lap of the race on the very last lap, lap 94.
There were no full-course cautions in the race, which resulted in a brutal contest with no breaks for the drivers and a spread-out field. Gleason worked hard to maintain sixth throughout most of his time behind the wheel, finally falling to seventh on lap 35 when Duncan Ende got by him. Ende had the best lap of the race at that point.
Gleason had regained sixth before the Turner Motorsport crew brought him in for the driver change, and had actually risen to fourth again due to others' pit stops before Hand took over on lap 46.
The entry dropped to eighth due to the driver change but Hand was back in sixth place by lap 50 and fifth on lap 57. He moved up to fourth on lap 78 and third by lap 80 with 12 minutes remaining in the event. He was still third until three minutes to go when he pitted for a splash of fuel. That allowed Spencer Pumpelly, who set the fastest lap of the race, to pass him and nail down the final podium position, pushing Gleason and Hand to fourth.
Martin and Wilden won in a Mustang over another Mustang piloted by James Gue and Bret Seafuse. Ende and Pumpelly were third in their Porsche, while the two Turner Motorsport BMWs of Gleason and Hand and Bell and Bill Auberlen rounded out the top five.
The race will be broadcast on SPEED at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, June 28.
The next event is July 17-19 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.
"There were no full-course yellows, which made it hard to have good race strategy.
"I started and was in the car for about an hour and 15 minutes until the fuel warning light came on. Then we pitted, but without a yellow there wasn't much room for strategy.
"Once the pit stops were done we were going to try to do it on a one-stop strategy, but we came out a few laps short. Joey was in third, but finally the fuel warning came on with three laps to go, so he came in for a splash and go and we fell to fourth. We all agreed that we had to come in; there was no question about it really.
"There was a nice crowd on hand and it was a nice day, but the cars got spread out and there wasn't much action. But our car was really fun to drive. I did my personal best lap of the weekend during the race itself, so I was pleased with that.
"Joey did all he could and the Turner Motorsport crew prepared a great car. We all did the best we could, and we're glad to have another strong finish. Wilden finished ahead of us today but at least we're hanging in there. They can have trouble sometime too, and we need to be ready to cash in when they do."
-credit: restart communications