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Contential Tire Series - Gleason And Said Finish Fifth At Laguna Seca

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SALINAS, July 12, 2011: While Chris Gleason Jr. was home in Wayne, Pa. waiting for his wife Tara to give birth to their first child, sports car standout Boris Said substituted for him in Saturday’s Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Said enthusiastically joined right in with the APR Motorsport Street Tuner effort, and he and Chris Jr.’s younger brother, Kevin Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., finished fifth in the two-hour-and-45-minute endurance race.

Uncle Kevin will have a good story to tell his future nephew or niece, as Said started 15th in class and they both battled hard to nail down the top-five finish with the No. 181 Volkswagen GTI, which is sponsored by VW DriverGear, APR, BSS, Motul and DXD.

Said’s start was phenomenal. The veteran from Escondido, Calif. passed four cars on his first trip around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course, and he had already cracked the top 10 when the first full-course caution flag waved on lap two for a Mazda that went off course in Turn 7. One lap after the green waved again on lap six he passed Chris Sarian’s Mini and Jeff Mosing’s BMW dropped back to vault Said up to eighth place. He passed Glenn Bocchino’s Mazda with nine laps down to nail down seventh, and he set the entry’s fastest lap of the race on lap 10 with a time of 1:41.760 (79.175 miles per hour).

He got sixth on lap 12 by passing David Thilenius’s Honda Civic. Taylor Hacquard’s Mazda was the next car on his radar screen, but it proved hard to pass. He got closer and closer but he was still in sixth place when the team brought him in for a pit stop under a full-course caution on lap 23, which was needed to retrieve a Mustang that was stuck in a gravel trap off Turn 10.

Although Said had brought the car up to sixth during his stint, which lasted about 48 minutes, the car was back where it started in 15th place when Kevin Gleason took over due to the time lost for the pit stop.

The rookie not only duplicated the veteran’s results in his stint, but he got the car up as high as fourth.

At the one-hour mark Gleason was 12th, but about four minutes later he had the car back in the top 10. He got ninth on lap 35 when Hacquard finally pitted. He passed a couple of other cars and some others pitted, and on lap 47, 1 hour and 32 minutes into the race, Gleason was in fifth place, right behind Ian Baas in his sister car.

Five minutes later Gleason passed Baas for fourth place on lap 50. He was thinking “podium finish” but he had a lot of distance to cover to catch the third-place driver, Chip Herr.

Miraculously, Gleason cut Herr’s advantage from 9.109 seconds to just 0.884 of a second in only 10 laps. He was still fourth when the event’s sixth full-course caution flag waved on lap 62 for two cars that had gone off at Turn 5.

Andrew Carbonell was on a tear at that point in the Mazda that eventually won the race, and he passed both Herr and Gleason on the restart on lap 65 with just 21 minutes remaining in the race to push Gleason to fifth. Carbonell took the lead from Nic Jonsson on lap 66 and Gleason slipped to sixth on that lap when Tom Long got around him.

Gleason was 1.109 seconds behind the fifth-place driver on lap 74 with just six minutes remaining because Jonsson had passed Herr a few seconds earlier. It wasn’t over yet, however, because Gleason passed Herr for fifth place on the next lap with just four minutes remaining. Gleason was still in fifth place, 3.622 seconds behind the fourth-place Kia of Nic Jonsson, when the checkered waved on lap 79.

The official top 10 ended up being Carbonell, Long, Gregory Liefooghe, Jonsson, Gleason, Ryan Eversley, Baas, Tim Bell, Jason Hart and Jesse Combs and their respective co-drivers.

“All in all it was a good weekend,” Gleason said afterwards. “Laguna didn't quite suit our car as much as some others, so I think we got the max result possible. It was great driving with Boris, as he is such a well-known guy not only for his tremendous talent behind the wheel but also his great personality. APR did a great job as usual in preparation and execution, so a big thanks goes out to them.”

Kevin Gleason is now seventh in the Street Tuner driver point standings and Chris Gleason Jr. is 13th heading into the next race, which is coming up July 22-23 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J., near Atlantic City.

Along with their father, sports car veteran Chris Gleason of Johnstown, Pa., the brothers won a Spec Miata 12-hour enduro at New Jersey Motorsports Park in May.

Both of the Gleason brothers are running near the top of the standings for the MESCO Building for the Future Rookie of the Year title with just two events remaining: the race at New Jersey and the season finale Sept. 16-17 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Kevin Gleason is third in the current rookie point standings and Chris Gleason Jr. is sixth.