Accident in Practice Spoils the Gleasons' Hopes But Their Teammates Go on to Win Friday's Continental Tire Race at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 28 - Auto racing's topsy-turvy manner was the story line for the Gleason brothers' experiences at the season opener for Grand-Am's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series Thursday and Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
Chris Gleason Jr. of Wayne, Pa. and Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. were unable to compete in Friday's race after their APR Motorsport No. 181 Volkswagen GTI was damaged in a crash during a practice session Thursday afternoon.
Chris Gleason Jr., 29, was not injured in the crash, which occurred shortly after he set the fastest time of the second practice session with a lap in 2:08.097, averaging 100.049 miles per hour over the 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course. Even after the crash that time stood as the third-fastest lap for the class in the 45-minute practice session.
Although repairs couldn't be made in time for the brothers to qualify later that afternoon and then compete in Friday's race, they were still part of the winning team. Two of their teammates, Ian Baas of Noblesville, Ind. and Ryan Ellis of Ashburn, Va., went on to win the pole and eventually the Street Tuner class in Friday's race for APR Motorsport and VW DriverGear.
Kevin Gleason, 23, drove the No. 181 car for the majority of the first practice session on Thursday, so both he and his brother got valuable experience driving on the famous track. Kevin Gleason set the seventh-fastest time in the 43-car field during that first practice session.
"I came up under heavy braking on a GS car in the Bus Stop that wasn't up to racing speed, and we made contact," Chris Gleason Jr. explained about the shunt. "It was a heavy hit, and the team just couldn't get the car repaired in time. Both Kevin and I were looking forward to competing at Daytona, and to have that taken away in the blink of an eye was gut wrenching. The bottom line is it's a long season, and I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle at Homestead in order to turn things around."
The Gleasons will try for better luck at the second event of the season March 4-5 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. The tentative driver line-up for their car for that race will be the young men's father, Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., and Chris Gleason Jr.
-source: restart communications