Gleason and Auberlen Finish a Strong Third in Saturday's Grand-Am Cup GS Race at Phoenix PHOENIX, May 13 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif. both drove almost exactly half of the Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport...
Gleason and Auberlen Finish a Strong Third in Saturday's Grand-Am Cup GS Race at Phoenix
PHOENIX, May 13 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif. both drove almost exactly half of the Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport (GS) race Saturday afternoon at Phoenix international Raceway and at the end of the two-hour event they shared the joys of a podium finish with their Turner Motorsport BMW M3 No. 96.
Gleason qualified eighth and drove the first half of the 101-lap race around the 1.51-mile road course, which amazingly had not one full-course caution flag. He had the car up as high as fifth in his stint and then turned it over to pro driver Auberlen, who brought it home third.
The entry is sponsored by Gleason Financial, H&R Springs and StopTech Brakes.
Gleason had a very solid stint, and even set the second-fastest lap of the entire race. The only car that went any faster was the winning Porsche of Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally. Gleason's best lap was even faster than the best lap recorded by his team car, the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW of Anders Hiner and Boris Said, which finished second.
Gleason got a great start and passed the Automatic Racing BMW No. 91 for seventh on lap three. He then fought the Hyper Sport Mustang GT No. 55 for many laps. He moved into sixth on lap nine when the Automatic Racing No. 90 BMW fell back. The Hyper Sport Mustang got around him on lap 11 to push him back to seventh, but Gleason passed that car back on lap 21 to regain sixth place.
He moved into fifth on lap 30 when the Marcus Motorsports Porsche No. 50 ran into trouble. Unfortunately Gleason ran into some problems of his own on the next lap and dropped from fifth to ninth. He stayed in ninth until lap 41 when he slipped to 11th, and then pitted to let Auberlen take over on lap 54, an hour and three minutes into the event.
The entry dropped to 16th after the pit stop but Auberlen steadily worked his way back up through the standings. He was fourth with seven minutes to go and he passed the Bernheim Racing Porsche No. 03 for third with only five minutes remaining to nail down the podium finish.
"I inadvertently bumped a switch that turned the engine off for a second, and that's when I lost those positions," Gleason said afterwards in victory lane. "I did it a couple of times.
"This is the first time I've ever driven this particular car any real distance, and I never knew exactly how to manage the tires and the brakes," he continued. "In this heat [it was 102 in Phoenix on Saturday] the tires went off, and at the end the car was a real handful. It was oversteering in some places and understeering in other places. The brakes didn't work too good at the end either. It was really a handful.
"But we got out of the pits without losing a lap, and that was the key," he added.
The last few Grand-Am Cup races have been caution-filled, but today's race was completely caution-free.
"I think they wanted to prove they could run a race without a lot of yellows," Gleason noted with a smile.
Highlights of the race will be broadcast tomorrow, Sunday, May 14, at 1 p.m. Eastern time on SPEED.
Gleason and Auberlen's next race together will be May 26-29 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.