SCC: Watkins Glen: Chris Gleason race notes

Gleason and Hand Achieve Another Podium Finish At Watkins Glen on Friday WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., June 5 - After winning at Connecticut's Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day, Chris Gleason and Joey Hand recorded another strong podium finish Friday at ...

Gleason and Hand Achieve Another Podium Finish At Watkins Glen on Friday

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., June 5 - After winning at Connecticut's Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day, Chris Gleason and Joey Hand recorded another strong podium finish Friday at Watkins Glen International when they placed third in KONI Challenge race.

Gleason, of Johnstown, Pa., and Hand, of Sacramento, Calif., co-drive the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 Coupe No. 97 sponsored in part by Gleason Financial.

The duo was always in contention throughout the 2-hour, 30-minute contest on the Glen's demanding, 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course, and their car recorded the fastest lap of the race among the 51 entries. That occurred on lap 35 of the 61-lap race when Hand was timed in 2:03.308 for an average speed of 99.263 miles per hour.

Andy Lally and John Potter won the event in a Porsche followed by Gleason and Hand's sister car, the Turner Motorsport BMW M3 Coupe No. 96 driven by Bill Auberlen and polesitter Matt Bell. The latter car was 1.117 seconds behind Lally's Porsche at the checkered flag after a day of intermittent rain. Gleason and Hand's No. 97 was 1.197 seconds behind its sister BMW at the finish.

The top three finishers were exactly the same as they were at Lime Rock except in a different order. Gleason and Hand won that race over Lally and Potter, with Auberlen and Bell third.

Gleason recorded his best qualifying results so far this season when he qualified seventh on Friday afternoon at the Glen, posting a lap in 2:05.979 on his fifth and final lap in the 15-minute qualifying session. That worked out to an average speed of 97.159 miles per hour. Gleason's qualifying run took just 1.403 seconds longer than polesitter Matt Bell's new track record of 2:04.576 (98.253 mph), and it was only a tenth of a second off the time recorded by Jack Roush Jr., the sixth-place starter.

Gleason started the race and he remained in seventh place throughout his stint, handing the BMW over to Hand in perfect condition just as hoped. Gleason spent most of his stint running behind the Kinetic Motorsports BMW of Glenn Bocchino that finished fourth while holding off either John Potter in the Porsche that went on to win or Mark Harvison's Mustang. The winning car was 2 seconds behind Gleason's when he pitted on lap 12 for Hand to take over under a full-course yellow for oil in Turn 1.

Gleason and Hand's entry dropped from seventh to 43rd due to the pit stop, but other competitors had to pit too and it only took Hand nine minutes to get back to 11th on lap 16. He charged into a podium position for the first time on lap 23, a lap before Auberlen passed Bret Seafuse for the lead.

Hand passed Seafuse for second on lap 26 to make it one-two for Turner Motorsport at that point. Hand remained in second until lap 29 when he dropped to fifth, but he passed Dean Martin for fourth on lap 33 and Seafuse for third on lap 34 before he set the fastest lap of the race on lap 35.

At that point he had to make another pit stop, which sent him back to eighth. Others had to pit too, and Hand was back in third by lap 43. At that point the two Turner BMWs were chasing two Ford Mustangs, and Hand was 3.334 seconds ahead of Auberlen.

Auberlen passed Hand for third on lap 50 and then passed James Gue for the lead on the subsequent lap. On lap 52 Hand was in second place, 0.637 of a second behind Auberlen, while Lally was third followed by two Mustangs.

Lally vaulted from third to first on lap 55 with about 13 minutes remaining in the race. Hand was 0.224 of a second behind Lally at that point, but then Auberlen repassed Hand on lap 56 to push Hand back to third.

Hand wasn't done yet, however. He passed Auberlen back for second place on lap 58 in the Inner Loop with about 4 minutes remaining. Auberlen got him back for the final time in Turn 7 on the next-to-last lap, and that's the way they finished.

Auberlen led the most laps of the race (18) followed by Ken Wilden, the points leader and sixth-place finisher; James Gue and Lally.

Chris Gleason:

"Andy Lally beat us today; his Porsche was great in the rain and he did a fabulous job.

"I really didn't do very much work today; they brought me in after about 30 minutes after a couple full-course yellows.

"It rained off and on, including the last 40 minutes or so. We wanted to win, but third is good for the championship.

"I qualified seventh, which was my best qualifying result so far this year and only a tenth of a second out of sixth. I'm getting my rhythm back.

"We had a good pit stop for the driver change; the Turner Motorsport crew did a good job. On Joey's second pit stop he and Bill Auberlen came in at the same time and Joey beat him out of the pits. They might have been first and second at the time; I don't remember.

"We had no real problems. We had a little problem with the brakes that was compounded when it rained, but we had no real problems. Joey drove the wheels off the car. We really tried to win and we came up a little short, but third is good for the points."

-credit: restart communications

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Joey Hand , Andy Lally , James Gue , Chris Gleason , Ken Wilden , Bret Seafuse , Glenn Bocchino , Dean Martin , Matthew Bell , John Potter , Jack Roush Jr.
Teams Kinetic Motorsports , Turner Motorsport