Gleason Wins Pole and Finishes on the Podium In VW Jetta TDI Cup Race JOLIET, Ill., Aug. 1 - Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. is on a roll. After winning three Spec Miata races last weekend at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.,...
Gleason Wins Pole and Finishes on the Podium In VW Jetta TDI Cup Race
JOLIET, Ill., Aug. 1 - Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. is on a roll.
After winning three Spec Miata races last weekend at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y., the 23-year-old from Johnstown, Pa. won the pole and recorded his first podium finish in the VW Jetta TDI Cup series Saturday and Sunday at the Autobahn road course here.
Driving the No. 32 Jetta sponsored by Oakley and Citation Medical Labeling Systems, Gleason won the pole by topping 27 other competitors with a time of 2:46.455 and an average speed of 75.696 miles per hour for the demanding 3.56-mile, 19-turn circuit near Chicago on Saturday. He went on to finish third in the 30-minute race Sunday morning behind only the winner, Wyatt Gooden of Gates Mills, Ohio, and the runner-up, Jarvis Gennari of Boca Raton, Fla.
Gleason led the first lap, crossing the line with a 0.768-second advantage over J.D. Mobley of Castle Rock, Colo., but then he made a slight mistake and fell to fourth on lap two. Mobley then ran into some problems of his own and fell from first to ninth on lap three to vault Gleason back up to third place. A full-course caution waved a bit later on lap three and lap four to tow in two cars that had gone off in a gravel trap off Turn 13.
While Gleason was contemplating his strategy for the restart he got a gift, as the second-place driver, Chris Wehrheim of Norcross, Ga., reported to the pits to replace a flat tire.
That moved Gleason up to second for the restart on lap five, behind only the eventual winner, Gooden. With 10 minutes remaining in the race he was only 1.369 seconds behind the leader, and he had cut that to only 0.622 of a second with 5:47 left on lap seven.
Unfortunately Gennari got around him on lap eight with a questionable move, damaging the right-rear wheel and bodywork of Gleason's Jetta. Gennari apologized after the race but the damage was done, and Gleason had to nurse his damaged Jetta home in third place while holding off the fourth-place finisher, Jake Thompson of Calgary, Alberta.
"The damage to the rear wheel happened in Turn 3 when he was passing me for second," Gleason said afterwards. "The toe was out of line after that and it affected the steering, but I'm not going to get beat up over it because things like that happen in racing. It's my first podium in this series, so I have to be happy. This series is very competitive, and I have to thank the people who prepare the cars, the sponsors and all the fans who turned out today to watch the race."
The next event is a doubleheader at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Aug. 20-22, while the season finale is a doubleheader Sept. 24-26 at Autodromo AMOZOC in Pueblo, Mexico.
Gleason is a senior at Niagara University in upstate New York, where he is pursuing a degree in business management. His father, Chris Gleason, also of Johnstown, Pa., is a veteran endurance sports car driver who has competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in numerous American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am Rolex Series and Continental Tire Challenge events with much success.
-source: restart communications