Gleason and Marks Finish Tenth Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 19 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and his co-driver, Justin Marks of Chico, Calif., placed tenth in Sunday's Legacy Credit Union 200 KONI Challenge race...
Gleason and Marks Finish Tenth Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 19 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and his co-driver, Justin Marks of Chico, Calif., placed tenth in Sunday's Legacy Credit Union 200 KONI Challenge race at Barber Motorsports Park despite handling problems throughout the two-and-one-half-hour event.
Gleason qualified eighth in the 19-car field with their Turner Motorsport BMW M3 Coupe No. 97, which is sponsored in part by Gleason Financial. His fastest lap during qualifying was timed in 1:39.589 for the 2.3-mile, 16-turn road course for an average speed of 83.141 miles per hour.
He got a good start in the race, moving up to seventh on lap two after Glenn Bocchino spun his BMW on the first lap while in fourth place. Gleason stayed in seventh place until Scott Russell got around him on lap 10, posting the fastest lap of his stint on lap three with a 1:39.750 (83.007 mph).
Gleason remained in eighth place until lap 14 when Ray Mason wiggled by to push him to ninth. He regained eighth place on lap 22, but he slipped to 12th on lap 26. He had dropped a couple more spots by lap 33, right before the one-hour mark, but he advanced to 13th when Bryan Ortiz dropped back on lap 39, six minutes after the one-hour mark.
Some of the teams ahead of his effort chose to make their first pit stops at that point, and Gleason was back in ninth by lap 43. One lap later he was in eighth again, but the entry dropped to 15th, one lap down, after its driver change with about one hour and 19 minutes completed.
Marks did his best to regain the lost time, and the team's perseverance was rewarded when he cracked back into the top 10 one minute before the two-hour mark. But with no full-course cautions to help close up the field, Marks took the checkered flag in tenth 33 minutes later.
Drivers of Mustangs took all three podium positions, with James Gue and Bret Seafuse on the top step. Gleason and Marks' sister Turner Motorsport BMW, which was driven by Matt Bell and Boris Said on Sunday, placed fifth.
Gleason's usual co-driver, Joey Hand of Sacramento, Calif., had a previous commitment to race in another series elsewhere this weekend.
The race will be broadcast on SPEED at noon Eastern time this coming Saturday, July 25.
The next event is the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec Aug. 14-16. The last time Gleason raced there he won with co-driver Bill Auberlen, who finished 0.267 of a second ahead of Andy Lally after a thrilling battle that day, Aug. 19, 2007. Gleason called that victory "one of the most magical moments of my life," and he'd love to duplicate those results there next month.
"The car rolled off the trailer and it seemed to be a tenth-place car no matter what we did to it. The team worked really hard; we changed the springs and shocks and a lot of other things, but we were never able to get the car to where it worked well this weekend. It had a big push, and we just chased the set-up the whole time.
"Our one-stop strategy was very good. The fuel warning light came on and we went to the reserve fuel and we even did one extra lap trying to stretch it out before Justin got in. That strategy worked well, but the car just did things you wouldn't expect it to do all race. It was a handful. Our sister car did a little better; it was fifth. But we got down and we just couldn't dig ourselves out of the hole.
"Now we go to Trois-Rivieres. I'll be driving with Justin again, and I'm really looking forward to it. I like it there, and I hope we'll do well."
-credit: restart communications