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Continental Tire Series Barber Park - Gleason Brothers Finish Eighth At Barber

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LEEDS, April 10, 2011: Rookies Chris Gleason Jr. of Wayne, Pa. and Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, Pa. posted another solid top-10 finish in Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition Saturday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Ala.

The brothers ran as high as second and as low as 22nd before they finished eighth in the Street Turner class with their APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI No. 181 sponsored by VW DriverGear, APR Tuned, Motul and BBS.

A full hour of the 2-hour-and-30-minute race was taken up by five full-course cautions, which accounted for 25 of the 77 laps that were completed around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course during the event. Luckily the brothers weren’t involved in any of the tussles, their car performed like a German watch and they received no penalties. Their strategy was to try to get an advantage by only making one pit stop, but it didn’t pay off as well as it might have simply because of the numerous yellows.

Chris Gleason Jr. started the race in 12th place. He was determined to stay near to the driver of his sister APR Motorsport car, Ryan Ellis, as much as possible during his stint, since that car won the last race. Trevor Hopwood and Michael Galati passed him on the first lap but they passed Ellis too, and Gleason remained patient. He posted the entry’s fastest lap of the race on lap 4 with a time of 1:44.843 for an average speed of 78.975 miles per hour over the challenging road course.

Gleason moved into the top 10 under the first caution flag, which flew on lap 20 about 36 minutes into the race when three cars stopped on the course. A driver ahead of him pitted under that yellow to advance him to ninth for the restart on lap 24, when he was once again right behind Ellis.

The race restarted on lap 24 but the action slowed again three laps later when the BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i No. 81 careened into a gravel trap off Turn 10. That put Gleason into eighth place, still behind Ellis.

Many teams chose to pit under that yellow, and on lap 29, about 56 minutes into the race, Gleason found himself in second place, behind only the Freedom Autosport Mazda Speed 3 of Brad Rampelberg.

The green flew again on lap 31, and Gleason fought off the advances of Trevor Hopwood in a Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup and the rest of the field that was bearing down upon him. He remained in second on lap 32, but on that circuit Owen Trinkler, who set the fastest lap of the race in the ST class, passed Hopwood for third. Trinkler then got around both Rampelberg and Gleason on lap 33 with 1 hour and 3 minutes gone to take the lead and push Gleason to third.

Gleason was still in third when he was forced to pit under green on lap 36 for fuel and for the driver change. As luck would have it another caution came out on lap 38, as a competitor had stopped on the course at Turn 9.

Kevin Gleason started his stint in 22nd place, but luckily the entry was still on the lead lap. A few other drivers pitted under that yellow so he was 14th on the restart on lap 45 about 1 hour and 25 minutes into the race.

He had a great restart and moved into 13th right away, and then passed Chad Gilsinger to move back into 12th, the position the car had qualified, with 61 minutes remaining. He passed Andrew Novich for 11th with 47 laps down, had a fight with Pierre Kleinubing for a few laps, and then found himself back in the top 10 on lap 51, 1 hour and 39 minutes into the race.

He passed Zach Lutz’s Honda Civic for ninth working lap 53 right before the fourth yellow waved on lap 57 when the Freedom Autosport No. 27 went off course at Turn 14.

The green waved again on lap 62 with 31 minutes remaining with Gleason still in ninth. At that point he set his sights on Tom Long, who was driving another Freedom Autosport Mazda, while he simultaneously tried to hold off Ryan Eversley, who had a good run going in the Compass360 Racing Honda Civic until it lost its engine late in the race going into Turn 1.

Justin Piscitell’s BMW ran into problems late in the race too and dropped back, which advanced Gleason to eighth place. There was one more yellow from laps 65 to 69 when two Mustangs driven by Rob Finlay and Mike McGovern (whose co-driver is Reba McEntire’s son, Shelby Blackstock), went off course at Turn 6. Gleason got as close as 0.001 of a second behind the seventh-place car of Tom Long but Long fought off his advances and Gleason took the checkered in eighth place, just 0.066 of a second behind Long. Adam Burrows got passed by Nico Rondet on the last lap for ninth.

The Gleason’s sister car, which is driven by Ian Baas and Ellis, finished fourth this time. The Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup driven by Galati and Nic Jonsson won over the Doran Racing BMW 128i of Tim Bell and B.J. Zacharias. Jesse Combs and Jeff Mosing were third in a BMW 328i fielded by RACE EPIC/Murillo Racing.

The race will be shown at 2 p.m. Eastern time next Saturday, April 16, on SPEED.

The next event is the Bosch Engineering 200 at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Va. May 13-14. The action starts with a test day on Thursday, May 12. Practice sessions will be held on lucky Friday the 13th before qualifying occurs at 5 p.m. that same day. The 2.5-hour race is slated to start at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, with live timing and scoring of all sessions on The VIR race is scheduled to be broadcast at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, May 22 on SPEED.

Post-race quotes follow:

Chris Gleason Jr.: “I qualified 12th. We’re missing a little power now due to a ruling by Grand-Am, but we qualified about where we thought we would. The race was really hot today so the whole idea for me was to try and keep it clean and keep the tires and brakes in good shape for Kevin.

“I ran right behind Ryan Ellis in our sister car most of my stint. We were both pretty comfortable running together. I had a couple of good bouts with a Kia, but my stint was pretty uneventful for the most part, which is a good thing. “We’ll take eighth! Overall, considering the big picture, I think we maximized what we could get out of our car. Unfortunately our race strategy didn’t quite work out for us, but that happens. It’s always a gamble. Track position at this track is so important because it’s so hard to pass here. We’ll take the eighth and go on to VIR. Thank you to APR Motorsport who came through again with a great car right away, as well as a great pit stop. Their hard work makes our job as drivers much easier.” Kevin Gleason: “I took over and we went double yellow right away. As we got bunched up under yellow I was just a few spots outside of the top 10. On the restart I was able to start picking off cars and slowly clawed my way into the top 10. I made my way up to ninth and then I had a really good battle with Tom Long to the end of the race. He raced me really hard, which was a lot of fun. “One of the Minis had a big moment in front of me in the fast esses so we were able to end the day in eighth. “It was really fun having all the APR Volkswagen and Audi fans stopping by the trailer here at our home race. Big thanks to all the guys at APR Motorsport who gave us a great car right off the trailer and worked really hard on this long race weekend.”