Birmingham: Chris Gleason race report

Gleason and James Finish Third Sunday In Porsche 250 Presented by Bradley Arant At Barber Motorsports Park BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 31 - Teammates Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz. recorded another impressive...

Gleason and James Finish Third Sunday In Porsche 250 Presented by Bradley Arant At Barber Motorsports Park

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 31 - Teammates Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz. recorded another impressive podium finish in the Grand American Rolex series by finishing third in Sunday's Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant race at Barber Motorsports Park.

They drove the No. 22 Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 and helped to add valuable points to BMW's total in the manufacturers' point standings.

One of their team cars, a similar BMW M3 driven by Justin Marks and Joey Hand, won the race. A Porsche finished second, but Gleason and James' car actually recorded a faster lap during the race than the second-place finisher.

James qualified fourth but quickly moved into third place during his first stint, and it wasn't long until he was running second. He pitted on lap 38, a little more than an hour into the two-hour-and-45-minute race, for Gleason to take over. Gleason drove for about an hour too. He was still in second on lap 50, but with pit stops the entry dipped to fourth. By lap 64 Gleason was back up to third, however. He pitted on lap 70 for James to take the car to the finish, and they were still in third when the checkered waved on lap 95.

The race was run under hot and humid conditions and even a short shower, and there were many caution flags as the drivers tackled the beautiful but challenging 2.3-mile, 16-turn road course.

Gleason said despite the adverse conditions, things went just as they had planned.

"We executed the race just the way we planned it," he said while boarding a plane back to Pittsburgh Sunday night. "It's great to be back in the groove and back on the podium."

"The plan was for Ian to start and run an hour, then put me in, and then have Ian in again for the end," he explained.

"Conditions were awful with the heat and humidity, but really everything went as we planned. Ian got up to second place, right behind Justin [Marks], and then when we pitted we got reshuffled back to fourth."

"When I came in the pits after my stint we were third. Then Ian did the last 30 or 40 minutes and solidified the third. We were just a few seconds behind the leader, which was great. Our team had great pit stops. They were 25 or 30 seconds maximum, and that really contributed to our success."

Gleason was pleased with his contribution.

"I passed a lot of cars in my stint," he noted. "I passed several cars right away on the restart. I had a very aggressive session, which I thought I had to do to maintain our position. I let Joey [Hand] by because he's our teammate and he went on to win the race, which was awesome. Tom [Milner, the team owner] is really happy. He really wants to win. We finished first and third, and he's really pleased with that."

"Chris had a great drive in the middle of the race and the M3 was in great shape when I got back in for the end," said James. "The rain affected our speed for about three laps, but the line dried out quickly. Another great result for BMW."

The race was televised live on SPEED.

The next event is coming right up on Aug. 11-12. It's a companion event to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at one of Gleason's favorite tracks, Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

"Now we go back to the Glen, and we're looking forward to it," Gleason said. "It's always a lot of fun to race on a NASCAR weekend. We have one weekend off and then we're back at it at the Glen."

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Justin Marks , Chris Gleason