SONOMA, Calif., July 27 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., has encountered various problems in his distinguished racing career, but he was faced with a new one Sunday in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. He and his teammate,...
SONOMA, Calif., July 27 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., has encountered various problems in his distinguished racing career, but he was faced with a new one Sunday in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway.
He and his teammate, Marc Bunting of Monkton, Md., were the victims of a definite fluke, as brand-new wheels on their Racers Group Porsche turned out to not be the right size, causing problems that frustrated not only them but their entire team.
The pair ended up 14th in the GT class and 28th overall after Bunting qualified eighth in class and 21st overall in their Porsche 911 GT3 RS sponsored by Monster Cable, mail2web.com, Carlsen Porsche, Adobe Road Winery, Rennlist.com and Gleason Financial.
Bunting started the race, making his first pit stop just four minutes shy of the one-hour mark. He took on fuel only, and stayed in the car.
He pitted again about an hour and a half into the two-hour and 45-minute race. This time the team changed tires and added fuel, and Gleason took over.
Four minutes later, however, Gleason pitted again because he knew there was a problem with the left-rear tire. About 15 minutes later he was back in the pits again, but that stop took at least 10 minutes to complete because of problems with the wheel. The problem remained, and about 10 minutes after that he had to pit yet again.
"It was very disappointing," Gleason said afterwards. "We had a great strategy. We were looking to add fuel on the first full-course caution, and we had a great pit stop. Marc was running anywhere between ninth and 12th in class early, and we were all set to go the distance.
"Then we stopped again so I could relieve him, and after the pit stop I looked back and there was smoke coming off the left-rear tire. I radioed in and came in so they could change the tire, and they had a real hard time getting the wheel off.
"The same thing happened twice. and then later we discovered that the wheels were the wrong size.
"This track has a lot of fast switch-backs, and I took it easy there for awhile because I didn't want a wheel to come off when I was in one of them," Gleason continued. "We just got so many laps down that there was no hope for a good finish.
"They were brand-new wheels; I'm absolutely at a loss for words on this one," he added. "I've been knocked out of races by mistakes I made and I've been knocked out of races by unavoidable problems, but this is the first time that it was due to wrong-sized wheels that we didn't do well."
On the plus side, Gleason made it through the race without any contact with another driver, despite the tight turns that made incidents like that very common.
"Well, yes, we did come through unscathed today," Gleason said.
"Marc did a great job on his first shift. It was a very challenging course, and this was a fluke thing, for sure."
He'll have different wheels - and hopefully better luck - at the next race, which is slated for next Sunday in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.
For more information see www.gleasonagency.com, www.theracersgroup.com, www.americanlemans.com and www.restartcommunications.com.