Watkins Glen III: Chris Gleason race report

Gleason and James Finish Fourth In Saturday's Rolex Series Race at the Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sept. 24 - Two Pontiac GTO.Rs and a Porsche took the podium spots but Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz. were...

Gleason and James Finish Fourth In Saturday's Rolex Series Race at the Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Sept. 24 - Two Pontiac GTO.Rs and a Porsche took the podium spots but Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. and Ian James of Paradise Valley, Ariz. were the stars for the BMW brigade when they took fourth place in the Crown Royal 250 Rolex series race Saturday at Watkins Glen International.

James qualified the Prototype Technology Group/The Gleason Group No. 22 BMW M3 in fifth place on Friday with a qualifying time of 1:56.478 (105.084 mph). He drove the first stint, advancing to second place by the half-hour mark. He completed 26 laps before turning the BMW over to Gleason under a full-course caution after a Corvette spun and hit the wall in turn six.

During his stint Gleason had a spirited battle with Spencer Pumpelly in the Porsche that eventually finished third and also the driver of the Synergy Racing Porsche No. 80 at the time, which was either Craig Stanton or David Murry.

Gleason drove until lap 41 when he pitted to let James get in again under another full-course caution. That yellow waved when one of their team cars, the No. 21 BMW, pulled off course and stopped in turn seven while leading, giving the lead to the Pontiac that eventually finished second. It was also two laps before a seven-car wreck that caused some damage to the No. 80 Porsche that Gleason had been battling with, although it was one of two cars that were able to at least make it back to their pit areas.

Although James had slight contact with the No. 16 BMW on lap two, he and Gleason were able to escape all the other tussles in a race that had six caution flags for 26 of the 66 laps run within the two-hour-and-45-minute time limit.

The race was televised live on SPEED.

"We had no problems," Gleason said afterwards. "The can ran well, and Ian did a good job. I thought my stint was decent. We had to pit under the full-course yellows, and on the second pit stop we went down a lap.

"The GTOs are awfully strong," he continued. "They're built like a Daytona Prototype in the rear and they have good drivers, and I really think they're the cars we have to beat at every race.

"We wanted a podium, but fourth is better than fifth," he said philosophically.

Both Gleason and James want to do as much as they possibly can to earn points for BMW in the manufacturer point standings. Unofficially after Saturday's race Porsche leads those standings with 375 points followed by BMW with 357 and Pontiac with 248.

Only two races remain on the 14-race Rolex series schedule for 2005: Oct. 7-9 at Virginia International Raceway and Dec. 2-4 at Mexico City, Mexico.

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.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers David Murry , Ian James , Chris Gleason , Spencer Pumpelly , Craig Stanton