Auberlen & Gleason Win Grand-Am Cup GS 200 at Lime Rock Park LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 29, 2006) -- Bill Auberlen held off Turner Motorsport teammate Boris Said in Monday's Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport (GS) 200 at Lime Rock Park to score a Memorial Day...
Auberlen & Gleason Win Grand-Am Cup GS 200 at Lime Rock Park
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 29, 2006) -- Bill Auberlen held off Turner Motorsport teammate Boris Said in Monday's Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport (GS) 200 at Lime Rock Park to score a Memorial Day victory for himself and co-driver Chris Gleason in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M3.
Auberlen took control of the No. 96 machine during the race's first full-course caution period and took the lead on Lap 65 of the 130-lap event, but a late full-course caution allowed Said to close to his rear bumper for a 16-lap shootout. Auberlen and Said ran nose-to-tail throughout the closing laps and Said looked for a few opportunities to pass his teammate, but the winningest driver in Lime Rock history prevailed, winning by a margin of 0.748 seconds. It was the first victory of the season for both Auberlen and Gleason.
"Boris and I took some high-risk moves to get to the front, probably me a little more than him, and he just timed it perfectly," Auberlen said. "I had a six-second gap and with 30 to go, a yellow came out and bunched us up and Boris was right on my tail. I think he did a better job of managing his tires than I did, and when we went into the last stint and he was right on my tail with 19 laps to go. I could see where he was very strong. There were maybe one or two points where I was slightly stronger. We had an issue that was occurring all day long. Anytime I revved my motor up, the motor would die, the ECU would reset and it would cause the engine to not run for four seconds, so I stopped revving the motor up. The neat thing was, Boris and I were teammates for years at BMW and I know how good he is, and I know how tough he can be. I know he played it very nice to me, nicer than he could, because he and I are friends. I appreciate that. He kind of let me have this one."
Gleason started 18th, but quickly moved up in the running order during his opening stint. Unlike many other cars in the field, the No. 96 team opted to switch drivers during the race's first caution period--coming on Lap 18--with Gleason handing off to Auberlen with more than three-quarters of the race remaining.
"We had an incredible discussion on what the strategy was going to be, between the drivers and the crew chief and (team owner) Will Turner," said Gleason. "They convinced me that the best thing to do was to look for the first full-course yellow to get Bill in the car. Obviously, they were right, and Bill did an incredible job. Turner does a terrific job, and Grand-Am has done a great job with the series. I mean, this series has really turned into some great racing, and I think they've developed the series very well. I've been racing here at Lime Rock since the '70s, so it's a wonderful win. I'm thoroughly enjoying it."
Hainer started sixth in the No. 97 machine, but like Gleason, picked off positions during the race's opening moments. The first came on the opening lap, when polesitter Todd Snyder jumped the start in the No. 90 Automatic Racing BMW M3, incurring a "drive through" penalty. However, Hainer was forced to overcome contact from Eric Lux in the No. 175 Tafel Racing Porsche 996 that left the No. 97 machine with a large dent on the right side door.
"I started sixth and the car was just absolutely amazing," Hainer said. "I was able to move up to third or fourth and then the No. 175 car came up and hit me in the door really, really hard. I was lucky that I still kept the car on track. I lost a few spots, but I was able to make the spots up. I was a little bit under the weather this morning, and I still don't feel great, so we decided--if we got an early yellow--we were going to put Boris in. Obviously, he's the man. I had a great time. The car is phenomenal, the Turner team is absolutely amazing, and Boris is unreal. I'm very proud of being a part of this effort."
Said kept the pressure on Auberlen throughout the race's final laps, showing the nose of his teammate multiple times heading into Turn 1, but the road racing stalwart could never complete the pass. He was forced to settle for second place and the second-consecutive podium result for himself and Hainer.
"I think I was maybe just a hair quicker than Bill at the end, and I think I saved my tires a little better," Said explained. "Definitely, I'd rather be his teammate than race against him. We won a lot of races together with BMW, but when you're racing against him, with five laps to go, he knows where to put the car. He was blocking me a little bit, just like I'd block him. It was totally clean what he did. We had a lot of fun today racing in traffic, and he deserves the win. In Grand-Am Cup, there's so many different kinds of cars that at certain tracks, cars have certain advantages. With Lime Rock being a handling track, the BMW was just untouchable today. Anders did a great job as always. We were both sick. I was sick as a dog Saturday night in the Busch race and didn't feel any better today, but once I started driving, the car was so great that I felt great."
The second-place result allowed Said and Hainer to close to within three points (118-115) of GS championship leaders Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly, who finished third in the No. 49 Marcus Motorsports Porsche 997. BJ Zacharias and Terry Borcheller came home fourth in the No. 2 Blackforest Motorsports Ford Mustang GT, followed by Patrick Long and Brent Martini in the No. 81 Synergy Racing Porsche 997.