Gleason and Hand Are Victorious At Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day LAKEVILLE, Conn., May 25 - Memorial Day 2009 was certainly memorable for Chris Gleason and Joey Hand. Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., and Hand, of Sacramento, Calif., spent ...
Gleason and Hand Are Victorious At Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day
LAKEVILLE, Conn., May 25 - Memorial Day 2009 was certainly memorable for Chris Gleason and Joey Hand.
Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., and Hand, of Sacramento, Calif., spent the holiday winning the KONI Challenge GS race at Lime Rock Park Monday afternoon in their Turner Motorsport BMW M3 Coupe No. 97. Their car is sponsored in part by Gleason Financial.
It was the third victory for Gleason in as many races at this demanding road course.
Hand took the checkered flag 4.735 seconds ahead of runner-up Andy Lally, who shares a Porsche with John Potter.
A sister car to Gleason and Hand's, the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 No. 96 driven by Bill Auberlen and Matt Bell, took the final spot on the podium after 135 laps of competition on the challenging, 1.530-mile, seven-turn road course.
Gleason qualified ninth with a lap in 57.944 (95.057 miles per hour), which was just 0.773 of a second off the pole. He passed Charles Putman's Automatic Racing BMW M3 on the first lap for eighth, and then settled into a rhythm running between Jack Roush Jr. and Bret Seafuse.
He moved up to seventh on lap five and ran in that spot until lap eight when Seafuse passed him. He regained seventh place on lap 13, right after he set the fastest lap of his stint on lap 12 with a 58.408-seconds lap (94.302 mph). At that point Peter Ludwig suffered an apparent left-front brake failure and hit a guardrail off Turn 1, bringing out the first full-course caution.
On the restart on lap 19 Gleason continued to set his sights on Seafuse, while behind him Nick Igdalsky passed Putman. Both Seafuse and Igdalsky were in Ford Mustang GTs.
Gleason nabbed sixth place on lap 24 right before the second full-course yellow flew on lap 27 when Bryan Sellers' Porsche experienced an apparent electrical failure and went off course in Turn 4. At that point the leaders pitted and Gleason did too, diving into the pits on lap 29 for service and for Hand to take over with a car that was still in excellent shape.
The entry fell from sixth to 11th due to the pit stop, but Hand quickly got to work. He was back in the top 10 by lap 32 and in the top five by lap 46, right before Spencer Pumpelly hit a tire wall in Turn 7 on lap 47 to bring out a third full-course caution. A few other top cars pitted at that point and Hand vaulted into second place, trailing only Bell in his sister car.
The two Turner Motorsport cars showed the way in that order from lap 48 until lap 60, when Hand passed Bell for the lead. Lally got second from Bell on lap 72 and then took the lead on lap 73 when Hand pitted for fuel under another full-course caution, falling back to ninth in the process. That caution was necessary after the JBS Motorsports Mustang plowed into a tire wall off Turn 2.
On the restart on lap 79 Hand was still in ninth place, about 2.307 seconds behind the leader, Lally. He averaged one car each lap as he climbed back into the top five, achieving that on lap 83 by powering around Bryan Ortiz. He got fourth by overtaking Ken Wilden on lap 87, and third on the next lap by passing Charles Espenlaub.
The driver in second at that point, Hugh Plumb, proved to be more difficult but Hand got by him on lap 92. The leader, Lally, was 2.242 seconds ahead of him then. Hand methodically cut that advantage down until he passed Lally on lap 112.
Auberlen moved into third by passing Espenlaub around the same time, but none of them had anything for Hand, who set the fastest lap of the two and one-half hour race on lap 117 with a time of 56.990 seconds (96.648 mph) before taking the checkered on lap 135.
Lally led the most laps (39) followed by Hand (37), Duncan Ende (27), Dean Martin (20) and Bell (12).
After not finishing the last race May 15-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. due to a rare mechanical problem, Monday's victory greatly boosts Gleason and Hand's championship hopes.
"It was a wonderful weekend. I've won the last three races that I've entered at Lime Rock, so it's really special. To share this one with Joey was great too. I look at him like a son and he looks at me as a father figure. Our families are close too, so it was great. He did such a great job! I was fortunate to be part of it.
"We approached this race with our usual strategy. I qualified ninth. After taking last year off, my rhythm is coming back. You have to work at it, but things are going better.
"My stint was clean, which is my first goal, and I managed to get up to sixth. My pit stop was clean too; the Turner Motorsport crew did a great job.
"On our second pit stop Joey overshot his mark and we lost some time pushing the car back in position. That's why we fell back to ninth, but Joey overcame that.
"He and Andy Lally had a wonderful race. Joey finally got by him with a brilliant pass on the outside of Turns 1, 2 and 3. It was like a sprint car pass; he went high and then dove down. It was wonderful.
"It's great to be back on top. The trophy is beside me as I'm driving back to Johnstown; it's belted in beside me on the front seat, and I smile every time I look at it. You can't beat that!"
The next race is coming right up on the long course at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. on June 4-5.
-credit: restart comminications