Gleason qualifies second in Long Beach debut and carges back after problem at race start.
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Kevin Gleason and Napleton Racing recovered from a problem at the race start and charged back to a ninth-place GTS-class finish in the No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman S in Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge Championships race in Long Beach.
Gleason was making his career Long Beach debut but that didn’t stop him from qualifying second earlier on Sunday for that afternoon’s 50-minute Pirelli World Challenge sprint, the final event of the 39th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.
The team finished fourth in both races at last month’s season-opening doubleheader on the street of St. Petersburg and an even better result appeared to be in the making at Long Beach. “Once again, the Napleton Racing team gave me a great car from the start,” Gleason said.
“We qualified on the front row and were showing a lot of promise for the race.
Unfortunately, off the standing start the clutch plate stuck and I was unable to shift for the opening two laps.”
With the Napleton Racing crew helping solve the problem over the pit-to-car radio, Gleason grappled with the clutch while limping around the Long Beach street circuit. He fell to near the back of the 24-car GTS field before finally working the clutch free.
“I was able to get it unstuck and worked hard to come back for a ninth-place finish,” Gleason said. “It was an up and down weekend for us. I'm looking forward to our next race at Circuit of The Americas and giving the guys a finish that they deserve.”
Gleason likely passed more cars than any other competitor in the GTS field and managed to finish on the lead lap, less than 12 seconds behind race winner Lawson Aschenbach.
Gleason also set the third fastest GTS lap of the race, trailing only the Camaros of Aschenbach and top qualifier Andy Lee.