The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 23, 2013

Gleason begins racing season


sports@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Napleton Racing and Kevin Gleason, debut weekend race winners last year at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, have reunited for an all-out assault on the Pirelli World Challenge Championships GTS title in the No. 16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman S.

Napleton and Gleason will contest the entire 2013 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship that begins this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, the fourth straight year the Pirelli World Challenge will begin its season in Florida with a doubleheader weekend that is part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IZOD IndyCar event.

Round 1 from St. Petersburg is scheduled for today, while Round 2 is on Sunday. The GTS competitors will race at the same time as the more powerful GT cars. Live streaming of both races may be seen on www.world-challengeTV.com,  and the full weekend telecast is to appear at 12:30 p.m. April 7 on NBC Sports.

Napleton and Gleason contested only the Mid-Ohio Pirelli World Challenge weekend last August, and walked away winners in their debut.

After finishing third in Saturday’s opening race of the doubleheader at Mid-Ohio, Gleason started third and drove to the victory in the rain in the Sunday race.

“I believe Napleton Racing and I will be a strong combination this year,” Gleason said. “We were able to achieve some success last year in our only weekend in Pirelli World Challenge and, seeing how well the team operated on and off the track, I knew this is where I wanted to be this year.”

Despite the Mid-Ohio success, Napleton and Gleason skipped the following and season-ending race in Sonoma and shifted the focus to building a full-season program for 2013. With that goal met, the mission begins this weekend in Florida.

“I didn't think we were going to be able to make it happen but thankfully a late deal was put together for the season and I couldn't be more excited,” Gleason said. “The GTS class is stronger than it’s ever been and the single driver platform is very appealing. There are a lot of really good teams and a great mix of fast, experienced drivers along with some really hungry younger drivers.”

Napleton Racing was also at the foundation of the landmark victory by Jack Baldwin at Long Beach last April. That race was the first major North American road racing victory for the Porsche Cayman S and the No. 68 was built by and at the time maintained by Napleton Racing.

Gleason’s resolve to put a deal together with Napleton was strengthened when the team, with drivers David Donohue, Shane Lewis, Dr. Jim Norman and Nelson Canache, dominated in the debuting GX class to win the season-opening Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. The Cayman S that carried the team to victory in the day-long Daytona race was the same proven car that Gleason drove to the Mid-Ohio win. An all-new Cayman S, that will carry No. 16, has been built for the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge campaign.