Gleason and Auberlen Finish Second In Grand-Am Cup Race at Daytona Friday DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 27 -- On Friday at Daytona International Speedway, Chris Gleason discovered that the best thing for the flu is a podium finish. The Johnstown,...
Gleason and Auberlen Finish Second In Grand-Am Cup Race at Daytona Friday
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 27 -- On Friday at Daytona International Speedway, Chris Gleason discovered that the best thing for the flu is a podium finish.
The Johnstown, Pa. driver developed a virus on Thursday night so he drove less than 10 laps in Friday's Grand-Am Cup 200, the season opener for the Grand-Am Cup series and the support event for this weekend's Rolex 24.
Luckily his co-driver, Bill Auberlen, was feeling fine. The Redondo Beach, Calif.-based man put on a stirring display of driving that Gleason called "legendary," and their Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs/StopTech Brakes BMW M3 No. 96 took the checkered flag in second place out of a field of 89 entries.
The podium finish made Gleason feel a lot better, and he was smiling in victory circle.
The only car ahead of Auberlen and Gleason's BMW after two hours and 20 minutes of competition was the Team Sahlen Porsche 996 No. 44 of Eric Lux and Charles Espenlaub.
Gleason had to start 51st in the field in the first place due to some problems the team experienced in qualifying. Then, due to his illness, Gleason pitted under the first yellow of the race, which came out when Paulo Do Couto's Audi slammed into the tire wall in turn one on lap six. That put the No. 96 BMW even further back in the field for the restart, but Auberlen drove the rest of the way and was more than up to the challenge.
To make it even more dramatic, Auberlen took second with just two laps to go when the No. 38 Porsche of Mark Plummer and Craig Stanton slid from first to third.
What's more, Auberlen did it on only one set of Hoosier tires, as the team decided to forgo new rubber to save time on its pit stop. "We might have gotten the win, but we ran out of tires near the end," Auberlen said.
As further proof of how hard the first and second place cars were battling at the finish, both ran their fastest lap of the race on lap 54 of the 57 laps they completed on the 3.56-mile road course.
Gleason was the first to point out the fine job that his co-driver recorded.
"The drive that Bill put in today, that's what legends are made of," he said. "I got the flu last night, so I only drove seven or eight laps. He had to come from like 54th spot, and he still was contending for the win. It was incredible. It's an honor to be on the team that did so well in the Super Bowl of GT racing."
After congratulating his co-driver and the rest of the team, Gleason said he was headed straight for a shower and bed. He still plans to drive in the Rolex 24, where he's a member of the Blackforest Motorsports Crawford Ford No. 50 team. He'll be joined in that car by his co-driver from last year, Ian James of Phoenix; Henri Zogaib of Daytona Beach, and Tom Nastasi of Stamford, Conn. James will start that race Saturday at noon from the 23rd position out of 66 cars.
"We want to set a sensible pace and let the race come to us," Gleason said. "I hope I feel better tomorrow, because I'm excited about it."
The Rolex 24 will be broadcast live on SPEED Saturday from noon until 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., and then from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. All times are Eastern.
Live timing and scoring is planned for grandamerican.com.
The next Grand-Am Cup race for Gleason and Auberlen will be at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. April 21-23.