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Continental Tire Series - Gleason Bros. Overcome Numerous Challenges To Finish P12 At New Jersery

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MILLVILLE, July 25, 2011: The Gleason brothers started at the rear but rose as high as seventh in the B+ Foundation Heroes 200 Continental Tire Challenge race’s Street Tuner division Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Although they tried their best to bring home a top-10 finish with their APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI No. 181, they finished 12th when the race ended under caution after two hours and 30 minutes of competition conducted under typical hot and humid summertime conditions.

Chris Gleason Jr. of Wayne, Pa. qualified 24th Saturday morning, just three days after he and his wife, Tara, welcomed their first child into the world when Shea Elizabeth Gleason was born Wednesday afternoon. His qualifying time for the 2.25-mile road course was 1:35.744, but he ended up starting the race in 29th spot in the Street Tuner class due to a blown hose on the pace lap.

Despite the weight of a full tank of fuel he posted his fastest lap of the race on lap three with a 1:36.502. He and Tim Probert tangled in Turn 2 on lap 14 and spun, but both continued and they didn’t bring out a full-course caution. Unfortunately Gleason’s car’s alignment was thrown off and the car lost a brake-cooling duct, which handicapped its performance the rest of the distance.

Gleason got into the top 20 on lap eight with the VW, which is sponsored by VW DriverGear, APR, BSS, Motul and DXD, when both he and John Kuitwaard passed Jason Briedis’s BMW. Some other drivers pitted under the first full-course caution from laps 19 to 22 but he stayed out, which helped him to break into the top 15 on lap 22.

Millville, July 25, 2011: The APR crew brought him in for a pit stop of his own during the second full-course caution on lap 27, 53 minutes into the race, while he was running 16th. Kevin Gleason took over at that point, and the Johnstown, Pa.-based driver started his stint in 17th place when the green waved again on lap 33.

He was back in 15th when the third yellow waved for a BMW that stopped on the course on lap 36. The entry moved into the top 10 for the first time Saturday on lap 38 under that full-course caution when other competitors pitted.

Kevin Gleason got ninth on lap 42 when both he and Jesse Combs passed Chris Brown, right before yet another yellow flag waved on lap 44 when a Mustang hit the wall on the frontstretch. Gleason got a great restart on lap 48 and advanced to seventh. Brad Rampelberg passed him on the next lap but he set the entry’s fastest lap of the race on lap 49 with a time of 1:36.454 (83.977 miles per hour).

Gleason regained seventh on lap 53 when Ian Baas fell back in one of his sister cars. Gleason came under attack then too, and he slipped out of the top 10 shortly before the two-hour mark.

He continued to struggle with the damaged car. When the fifth full-course caution waved on lap 65 for a BMW that had rolled to a stop he was back to 15th.

Some of his rivals also started having problems at that point and dropped back, which allowed the No. 181 to rise back to 12th by lap 70. The sixth and final caution waved on lap 71 for debris on the course, and Gleason was still in 12th place when the race ended under that yellow with 75 laps completed.

“As I was pulling out of the pits for the formation lap, the car was stuttering a bit and was way down on power, so I had to pull into the pits,” Chris Gleason Jr. said afterwards. “The team quickly diagnosed that a turbo boost hose had blown off and they quickly repaired it. Because I pulled into the pits I had to start from pit lane.

“Obviously the race didn't go according to plan for APR this weekend. Starting last on the grid subjects you to many perils that can end your race very quickly if you aren't patient. The combination of starting last, high 90s temperatures and chronic car overheating issues made the race very challenging.

“I tried to move through the field as safely as possible but unfortunately I made contact with one of the Race Epic BMWs which damaged the car’s alignment, brake duct and body work. The car wasn't the same as it was after the contact, but I was still able to hand it off to Kevin to finish the race.

“Jeff Mishtawy and Bill Baas of APR Motorsport did a great job calling our strategy, which allowed us to get into the top 10. Kevin also did a great job holding off the charging field with a wounded car, but it was inevitable that we were going to drop back a bit by the end of the race.

“This is a race we want to put in our rear-view mirror and look forward to Mid-Ohio,” he added. “A big thanks to APR Motorsport, who worked tirelessly throughout the scorching temperatures all weekend.”

Two RSR Motorsports Mini Coopers finished first and second in the race, which will be broadcast at 3 p.m. Eastern time next Saturday, July 30 on SPEED. The winning one was driven by Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler, while Tom Dyer and Chris Puskar placed second. Eric Foss and Brad Rampelberg were third in a Mazda.