Gleason to compete in 12 Hours of Sebring

SEBRING, Fla., March 15 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., hopes the luck of the Irish will ride with him Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, as he competes in his very first Exxon Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway ...

SEBRING, Fla., March 15 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., hopes the luck of the Irish will ride with him Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, as he competes in his very first Exxon Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway here.

The race, which will be covered live on Speedvision, will start at 10:35 a.m. Saturday.

In a late development, Gleason was named as one of three drivers of the Cirtek Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R #109 for the race, known as the 49th annual Exxon Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring. Qualifying will be held this afternoon (Thursday).

Along with the Rolex 12 Hours of Daytona, in which Gleason finished sixth in the GT class and ninth overall in February as part of the Genesis Racing BMW team, it is one of the two most prestigious sports car endurance races in North America. Former Sebring winners include many racing legends like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Phil Hill, Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney and Arie Luyendyk. The winning team at the last two Sebring races has gone on to win the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.

The 3.4-mile, 17-turn track is the oldest road course in North America. Gleason has driven in several support races here, but this is the first time he's entered in the track's most famous race.

His teammates this weekend are Keith Alexander and Gavin Pickering.

Forty-one cars are entered in the event, which is part of the American Le Mans Series. Gleason is competing in the GT class. The event is sanctioned by Professional Sports Car Racing.

"The quality of the drivers and cars at this event is as high as you can find in GT racing, and I'm happy that I'm involved," Gleason said Wednesday night after practicing in the Cirtek Porsche for the first time.

"I did about 12 laps today [Wednesday]. The Porsche is a good, sound car but it's totally different than the BMWs I'm used to. I have to get more acclimated to it. I was the fastest driver on our team today but I didn't go as fast as I wanted to. Tomorrow is another day though.

"It's a great field. Many of the top European teams are here; I think seven out of the eight top finishers at Le Mans last year are here this weekend. The Cirtek team is based in England, and it works out of Road Atlanta when it's in the states.

"The track is very demanding. The last turn, turn 17, and the first turn are both very fast. The track is so bumpy that when the car goes through those turns, it moves over a couple of feet. You just have to hang on and grin and bear it."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Phil Hill , Dan Gurney , Mario Andretti , Chris Gleason , Stirling Moss , Gavin Pickering , Keith Alexander , A.J. Foyt