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Continental Tire Series - Gleason Brothers Finish 12th At Lime Rock

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JOHNSTOWN, June 2, 2011: The Gleason brothers recorded their best qualifying result to date and led their first laps in Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition in a race last Saturday at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

A black flag for a broken window net dropped the brothers’ APR Motorsport Volkswagen GTI to 12th place in the final rundown for that race, but they don’t have to wait long until they can try again. They’re in action today and Friday in another Continental Tire event on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn long course at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

The Gleasons’ father, Chris Gleason, holds the series’ record for most victories at Lime Rock with three, but last Saturday’s race was the first at that track for his sons.

Last Friday his son Kevin, who lives in Johnstown, Pa., qualified second for the two-hour-and-30-minute Street Tuner race at Lime Rock, just 0.022 of a second off the time that won the pole. He took only 59.929 seconds to make his way around the tight, 1.53-mile, seven-turn original road course for an average speed of 91.909 miles per hour with the pair’s GTI, which is sponsored by VW Driver Gear, APR, BBS, Motul and DXD. Two Mazdas qualified first and third; a BMW was fourth and a Kia qualified fifth.

The polesitter, Derek Whitis, led the first 21 laps of Saturday’s race with Kevin Gleason and the rest of the field in hot pursuit. Gleason set his car’s fastest lap of the race on lap six with a time of 1:00.158 and an average speed of 91.558 mph.

Gleason took the lead on lap 22 about 23 minutes into the race by passing Whitis in Turn 1. At the half-hour mark on lap 30 he had a 0.554-second lead over Tyler McQuarrie’s BMW while John Capestro-Dubets was third in another BMW.

Ten minutes later the top two cars had pulled away from the field a bit, as Gleason was 0.327 of a second ahead of McQuarrie but McQuarrie had a 3.686-seconds advantage over Capestro-Dubets. The action had been fast and furious through that point, but on lap 42, 43 minutes into the race, the first of four full-course cautions came out when a Mazda crashed in Turn 5.

Kevin Gleason pitted under that caution as the leader, which gave the lead to McQuarrie. Chris Gleason Jr., who lives in Wayne, Pa., started his stint in tenth place, about 11 seconds behind McQuarrie, and the green waved again on lap 46.

Chris Gleason Jr. passed Ron Farmer’s Mini Cooper for ninth on lap 52 and he moved into eighth place on the following lap when the seventh-place Honda Civic pitted. He got seventh on lap 56 by passing Eric Foss’s Mazda. Two laps later the event reached the one-hour mark on lap 58 with Gleason in seventh place, 0.963 of a second behind the sixth-place car of Greg Liefooghe, who was now driving the BMW that John Capestro-Dubets started.

About 8 minutes later the problem occurred when Gleason was black-flagged for having a broken window net, which caused him to fall to 19th place and lose a lap.

The time lost could never be regained in such a competitive event. Gleason had a good battle with Justin Piscitell, who was in a BMW 328i, during his stint and he wasn’t involved in any of the incidents that brought out three additional full-course caution flags for 14 laps in what turned out to be a 136-lap race. He was the first of eight drivers who finished one lap down, ending up in 12th position, 1.9 seconds ahead of Piscitell.

The brothers’ car was one of eight that led the race, which was won by the polesitter, Whitis, and his co-driver, Tom Long.

Now the attention is on Watkins Glen. The complete schedule as well as live timing and scoring is available on Qualifying is at 3:25 p.m. Eastern today and the race is from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Eastern tomorrow (Friday). The Watkins Glen race will be televised on a tape-delayed basis at 5 p.m. Eastern on June 12.

The drivers’ post-race quotes after Lime Rock follow:

Kevin Gleason: "We decided to switch things around last weekend and have me qualify and Chris finish. I was able to set the third-fastest lap in practice on only my fourth lap on the track ever. I really enjoyed Lime Rock because it’s fast and you’re always busy.

“Qualifying went well, as I put the car on the front row just .022 of a second off pole.

“On the start I slotted into second and started working for the lead. Shortly into the race the Mazda went wide in Turn 1 and I was able to take the lead. I led for the rest of my stint before turning it over to Chris under the first full-course yellow.

“The APR boys did a great job on the stop and got us back out quickly. Just a few laps out Chris was black-flagged for a broken window net that was flapping out the window, which put us a lap down and essentially ended our race. It was extremely frustrating, as we had such great speed. Everyone at APR has been working really hard and hopefully the 181 has some luck coming our way soon."

Chris Gleason Jr.: "On Saturday things looked very promising. Kevin qualified P2 and led the race for most of his stint before having to pit about 45 minutes in.

“Our pit stop wasn't our best but we rejoined the field in good position to battle for the lead. When leaving the pits I found that I had totally lost radio contact with the team. I tried to unplug and reconnect the radio cords, but didn't have any luck. Not having a radio factored into a mediocre restart, as I didn't know we were going green that lap and I was also distracted with trying to fix the radio issue.

“In the end it didn't matter because our car was eventually black-flagged just as I was getting into a good rhythm. It was very frustrating, especially because I didn't know why we were being black-flagged due to our radio issues. It turned out the safety netting in the driver’s side door broke during the driver change and was not fully in place. The black flag put us a lap down, which we were unable to recover from.

“Later in the race I was able to chase down the leader at the time, Andrew Carbonell in the Freedom Autosport Miata, and get back on the lead lap, but that was short lived. I really had to lean on my tires to get by the Miata and therefore could only maintain my position on the lead lap for just a few laps. I was just hoping for a yellow so that I could rejoin the back of the field and have the chance to make up a few more positions. Unfortunately the yellow came out a few laps too late, and we ended up in 12th position.

“We are looking forward to a better result at Watkins Glen this coming weekend. Both Kevin and I know our way around the Glen pretty well so we should be very competitive."