Daytona 24: Chris Gleason race ends early

Problem with Wheels Foils Gleason's Run in Rolex 24 at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 5 - BMW of North America withdrew both its BMW M3s from the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night after both cars' right-rear wheel...

Problem with Wheels Foils Gleason's Run in Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 5 - BMW of North America withdrew both its BMW M3s from the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night after both cars' right-rear wheel studs broke.

Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. was behind the wheel of the team's No. 21 when its wheel broke, causing him to spin at about 165 mph. Luckily he didn't hit anything and he was not hurt.

"We have experienced recurring breakages of the right-rear wheel studs on both of our BMW M3s," noted a statement from the team. "This problem poses serious safety issues, and we have made the decision to withdraw from the race."

Gleason's car had been as high as fourth in the GT class at one point earlier in the day.

Although he was disappointed, Gleason was also philosophical about the situation.

"It was just a mechanical failure," he said. "These things happen, and you have to take the good with the bad in racing. At least it happened at the six- or seven-hour mark, and not really close to the finish when we were running in the lead or anything.

"The car felt strange for several laps on the banking before the problem occurred, but I wrote it off to turbulence," he continued. "Since you're flat-out for so much of the time at this track, it favors the Porsches over the BMWs, so you have to try to draft with the Daytona Prototypes as much as you can. I just thought it was turbulence; I didn't know the wheel was getting loose.

"Fortunately it happened in [turns] one and two, at the end of the long straightaway," he said. "I spun at about 165 mph, but luckily I didn't hit anything."

Gleason said that the series changed its specs on the wheels used by the GT class this year, and a lot of teams are pushing that the series goes back to the ones used previously. "It's purely a safety issue," he said.

"I was having fun for awhile; I enjoyed myself," Gleason added. "Of course I'm disappointed; I wish our race would have been longer. But it's a long season. Now we'll just look forward to Homestead."

The next race will be held in conjunction with an Indy Racing League IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. March 5.

More information can be found on the team's Web site at www.ptgracing.com; at Gleason Inc.'s site at www.gleasoninc.com; at www.grandamerican.com; www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com; www.speedtv.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

-lm-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Chris Gleason