Miami: Chris Gleason race report

Johnstown, Pa.'s Chris Gleason Finishes 13th in GT Class Saturday in Miami MIAMI, Sept. 27 - Just finishing the Grand Prix Americas Saturday afternoon on a tight, bumpy and unforgiving temporary course on the streets of Miami...

Johnstown, Pa.'s Chris Gleason Finishes 13th in GT Class Saturday in Miami

MIAMI, Sept. 27 - Just finishing the Grand Prix Americas Saturday afternoon on a tight, bumpy and unforgiving temporary course on the streets of Miami was an accomplishment.

Although Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., and his teammate, Marc Bunting of Monkton, Md., didn't end up as high in the standings as they'd hoped, they did finish the grueling two-hour-and-45-minute American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race, ending up 13th in the GT class and 26th overall.

The event was broadcast live on SPEED Channel.

Bunting qualified in 11th place in the GT class and hopes were high for everyone involved with the bright blue Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RS #68, which is sponsored by Gleason Financial, Alpine Bagels, Monster Cable, mail2web.com, Carlsen Porsche, Adobe Road Winery and Rennlist.com.

But very early in the event Bunting was involved in an accident with Shane Lewis and had to make an unscheduled pit stop for repairs. Bunting and Gleason's Porsche had a broken water line and a radiator leak, and the repairs took about 25 minutes to complete.

Bunting made his second and final pit stop for tires and fuel about halfway through the race, when Gleason took over. He was 15th in class and 30th overall when he got into the car, and he had advanced two spots in class and four overall at the checkered.

Gleason did have an incident with the Intersport Lola #37 near the end of the race. Both cars were able to continue, however.

Only one more event remains on the 2003 ALMS schedule: the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Motor Sport Park in Braselton, Ga., on Saturday, Oct. 18. That will be broadcast live on SPEED too. The race is 10 hours long, and SPEED will cover it from 11. a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern time and then again from 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Eastern time that day.

For more information see www.gleasonagency.com, www.americanlemans.com, www.theracersgroup.com, www.miamirace.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

Fans can place a vote for the series' most popular driver free of charge at www.americanlemans.com. Both Gleason and Bunting are up for that distinction.

Post-Race Quotes from Chris Gleason:

"The weather was hot and humid with periods of rain all weekend, and in practice it worked out that Marc got most of the dry laps and I got the wet laps. We have an understanding that whoever goes fastest in practice gets to qualify. Marc has been quick all year, and he did a great job and qualified 11th.

"Our team's lead car qualified ninth. The other car crashed very hard in practice on Friday, and it took 24 hours to fix it so that it could even compete today.

"In the first 15 minutes of the race Marc was running in a pack with a couple of other cars. The track was very tight and bumpy, and he braked a little late in one of the turns and plowed into Shane Lewis's rear end. It took us about 25 minutes to fix the damage, and that dropped us back to last.

"It was very hot and humid; typical Miami weather. Anyway, Marc went back out and drove for another 45 minutes or so. We had a full-course yellow roughly at the half-way point, and I took over.

"I had a good pace and the car was very good. The crew, led by our crew chief, Lars, did a very good job.

"I had a bumping incident with the Intersport 675 at the end.  We bumped
going into the hairpin, and he spun out.  That was very unfortunate.  I tried not
to hit him, but the course was very tight and we just ran out of room.  It's a
very small track and there was a lot of bumping.  You were always busy.

"The car was great though, and the heat didn't bother me. Our goal was to keep it off the wall and finish in one piece, and we did that. There was a horrendous bump leading onto the straight; in all my years in racing I never saw anything like it. You would actually get all four wheels airborne sometimes when you went over it. I'm surprised the cars stood up to it. The drivers complained about it before the race but we had to put up with it because they couldn't get it fixed.

"But at least we finished. Marc had a problem here and I had a problem at Three Rivers [the other street course on the ALMS schedule], so I told him now we're even.

"The season finale, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, is next. We'll have a third driver there since it's a long race, but I'm not sure yet who that will be."

-lm-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Shane Lewis , Chris Gleason , Marc Bunting