Stolen Victory "Daniel Di Leo has a sure victory taken away after a controversial call." TORONTO, ON. -- A late race stop-and-go penalty assessed by series officials cost Daniel Di Leo (Di Leo Auto Sport / Select Auto Collision / Autosports...
"Daniel Di Leo has a sure victory taken away after a controversial call."
TORONTO, ON. -- A late race stop-and-go penalty assessed by series officials cost Daniel Di Leo (Di Leo Auto Sport / Select Auto Collision / Autosports Media) his 2nd career Barber Dodge Pro Series (BDPS) victory this past weekend at the Molson Indy Vancouver. Di Leo, who returned to the temporary Vancouver circuit after a strong run last season, was devastated to get the penalty news over the radio while he was leading the Canadian event by more than 5 seconds.
Di Leo, who has one win on the season got his weekend off to a tough start as he qualified 4th in his Dodge race car. Complaining of handling problems and a car that was not responding to set-up changes saw Di Leo and series representatives make a decision to go to the back up car. This would see the Markham, ON resident have one 20 minute warm-up session to set up his car before the 50 minute timed race. Daniel was pleased with the cars performance and made the important decision to utilize that car for the race. "I shouldn't be off the pace" explained Di Leo. "I am driving my heart out and I know my result should be better than 4th."
Di Leo backed up his words in the opening laps of the race that saw him slide into 3rd before corner 1. A four car runaway that turned into three cars after Colin Flemming hit the retaining wall saw Di Leo dicing with series point leader Leonardo Maia and David Martinez. A bold move by Di Leo saw him dive down the inside at the end of the straightaway and make it three wide with the other race leaders. Di Leo managed to squeak by and into the lead and was showing why he will be Canada's next Champ Car star. "This car was better. It was more balanced and predictable as well as it responded to the set-up changes. The difference between my previous car and this was obvious as soon as I had a chance to race with some other drivers."
Di Leo and 2nd place Martinez continued to run an unbelievable pace that saw them stretch their lead over the field. A slight bobble on the exit of the last corner saw Martinez get a run on Di Leo. Daniel knew that there was going to be an attempted pass and drove down the center of the race track. "I didn't do anything wrong. I drove my own line and gave Martinez plenty of room on the inside." Martinez saw an opening and went for the lead. When he made it to the apex of the corner, he realized that he was carrying too much speed and locked his brakes and spun the car. Di Leo saw this action take place in his mirrors while retaining the point and a five second lead over now 2nd Maia. "I saw David on the inside and turned in later then normal. I wanted to make sure we didn't make contact as my mind was on championship points."
A few laps later, Di Leo was forced to enter the pits as he received a black flag stop-an-go penalty. A crushing break for the 21-year-old Canadian who was competing the second event in his home country this year and was in command of the race. A penalty that deemed Di Leo to have blocked the attempted pass of Martinez was assessed and after the stop-and-go penalty, Di Leo re-entered the track in 5th position. A frustrated but determined Di Leo put the penalty behind him and immediately went on the charge chasing down the car of Burt Frisselle. A late race move saw Di Leo secure 4th position in the final running order.
"This weekend has been filled with ups and downs," explained a dejected Di Leo. "It's so depressing knowing that I did everything right, and to have a victory taken away over such a controversial call is tough"
With the 4th place finish, Di Leo moved into 2nd in the series point standings and will now enjoy a much needed weekend off. Di Leo's next on-track action will be at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for round #9 of the BDPS over the August 7-10 weekend. Di Leo will look to get back on the winning track and prove that he is a true champion.