Watkins Glen II: Chris Gleason race report

Gleason and James Finish Fifth Friday Night In CompUSA 200 Rolex Series Race At Watkins Glen International WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 12 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz. had their Prototype Technology Group...

Gleason and James Finish Fifth Friday Night In CompUSA 200 Rolex Series Race At Watkins Glen International

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Aug. 12 - Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz. had their Prototype Technology Group BMW M3 No. 22 in third place in the late stages of Friday night's CompUSA 200 Rolex series race at Watkins Glen International, but then their car lost fifth gear. Two other cars were able to capitalize on the entry's problem, but Gleason and James still finished a solid fifth in the race, which was televised on a same-day, tape-delayed basis on SPEED.

The race was run as part of the track's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekend. Gleason and James actually had better finishes than stock car stars and occasional endurance sports car drivers Tony Stewart and Kyle Petty in the star-studded field.

Gleason qualified the car on Thursday but it developed transmission problems during the qualifying session, so he had to start 13th in Friday's two-hour race.

He had a fabulous start, vaulting three spots to 10th by lap two, and he was seventh by lap 16. A full-course caution came out on lap 20 when a Daytona Prototype landed in a gravel trap in turn seven. That was within the car's fuel window, so team owner Tom Milner brought Gleason in at that point, about 30 minutes into the race, to let James take over.

James had the car up to 10th by lap 29, and when some of the other top contenders pitted he found himself in sixth 10 laps later. Things continued to progress nicely for the team and James was in third by lap 60. He was still in third a half-hour from the end, but then the problem developed with fifth gear and two other drivers were able to get around him at the very end.

The pair's next race is on Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

More information can be found on the team's Web site at ptgracing.com; at Gleason Inc.'s site at gleasoninc.com; at grandamerican.com; speedtv.com and restartcommunications.com.

Gleason's post-race quote follows:

"Since it was a two-hour race, we knew it would probably require only one pit stop, so we decided that I should qualify the car so Ian would be in it for the end.

"We had trouble in qualifying though, and lost the transmission. I only did three laps in qualifying and I hadn't gotten a very fast time yet, so I started 13th on the grid.

"We had a great start though.  I went down four-wide into turn one.  I had a
couple good races and passed some people.  It was fun.

"On the second full-course yellow, Tom [Milner] called me in. I came into the pits in seventh or eighth place. Then after the shuffling around due to the pit stops and the racing in the middle part of the race, we dropped back to 12th or so. But then some other cars pitted and Ian was able to move back up to second place.

"Then right after one of the restarts somewhere in there he lost fifth gear. With four minutes to go we were in fourth place, but then another car passed us and we ended up fifth.

"But really the only thing that went wrong was losing fifth gear. Both of us drove well, and we're looking forward to Mid-Ohio, where we hope to get back on the podium again."

-lm-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kyle Petty , Ian James , Chris Gleason