Di Leo has Rough Outing in Atlanta
"Canadian looks to rebound this weekend in Phoenix"
TORONTO, ON. - Markham, Ontario resident Daniel Di Leo (Di Leo Auto Sport / Select Auto Collision / WTF Solutions / Autosports Media) competed at this weekend's Star Mazda event at the legendary Road Atlanta race course in Braselton, GA. Di Leo who has led the title chase since Round 1, fell behind with two races remaining due to an unavoidable first corner incident
After struggling with straight line speed earlier in the week, Di Leo and his Valley Motorsport Star Race Cars team were dumbfounded on the power related issues and come qualifying Thursday morning, the 22-year-old found himself in a back up car looking to take the pole. "We struggled with being down on power all week long. We were making gains in terms of setup but our power issues were too big to overcome," explained Di Leo. "We changed engines and worked a lot on the motor but still nothing was helping."
After the morning warm-up showed the same problems, Di Leo jumped into his teammate's car, who was absent from the event due to illness, and prepared himself for qualifying. "We had no other choice," explained Di Leo. "The guys worked so hard trying to solve the problem but we were simply running out of time." Despite some minor fitting issues, and the obvious set back of driving a different car for the first time in qualifying, Di Leo impressed all in attendance setting his quickest time of the weekend by over half a second, and claimed the third position for the start of the event.
When the green flag flew for the start of the Friday afternoon event, Di Leo hooked up with the pole sitter, as the duo looked to sneak into the lead entering corner one. The draft worked well as McDowell followed by teammate Di Leo passed the second place car of Scott Jenkins before the corner. Jenkins then took evasive action to get in the leader's draft and in doing so clipped the left rear corner of Di Leo's car, damaging his suspension and eventually putting him out of the event.
"This was a very frustrating weekend for us. The car wasn't right all weekend long and with the switch we made before qualifying paying off, I really thought that we had a shot at the win. Unfortunately, we were taken out at the start and in result lost the championship points lead."
The 22-year-old multi-time karting champion trails his teammate by 11 points with two events remaining in the '04 season. Di Leo currently leads the Rookie of the Year Honors by a demanding margin as the Star Race Cars driver looks to take both championship titles in his rookie season. Di Leo's next on-track activities will be this coming weekend as the talented driver heads to Phoenix for the only oval stop on the tour.