August 28, 2000 Eighteen-year-old Daniel Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, stepped onto the podium at Gateway International Raceway after finishing third in yesterday's Skip Barber Formula Dodge R/T National Championship. The finish, along with ...
August 28, 2000
Eighteen-year-old Daniel Di Leo of Markham, Ontario, stepped onto the podium at Gateway International Raceway after finishing third in yesterday's Skip Barber Formula Dodge R/T National Championship. The finish, along with a fourth-place achieved on Saturday, marks a continuing trend of improving results as the former kart racing champion edges toward a win in his first year of car racing.
Rounds nine and ten of the fourteen-race invitational series were held on the 2.6km (1.6-mile) road course at Gateway in East Saint Louis, Illinois. Daniel reported that the Skip Barber Racing School that runs the series gave competitors a little extra to think about at this event by allowing adjustment of the sway bars (devices that control the amount of side-to-side roll of the chassis) from the cockpit.
"I didn't have the sway control figured out in the first qualifying session and only managed to place ninth for Saturday's race," recalled Daniel. "I asked a few questions and got some advice before the second session and did much better. I qualified fourth for Sunday."
Both races included lots of passing and Daniel did his share of overtaking. On Saturday, he vaulted from his ninth-place starting position to run as high as fourth before dropping back to fifth by the finish. Sunday, however, was when Daniel really shone. A little mayhem at the start saw his Select Auto Collision/Max Auto Supply/Corporate Benefit car fall to seventh as he reacted to avoid some spinning cars. From there, he made a charge back to the front.
"Some cars got sideways at the start and I got held up," Daniel said. "I lost a few places, but I just put my head down and did my best."
The first and second place cars broke away from the pack and began to open a gap. By the time Daniel had worked his way to third, he had lots of ground to make up and not many laps to do it. He chased them down, setting the fastest lap of the race on the way, but just as he caught them, the checked flag flew and the race was over.
"If I'd just had a couple more laps I probably would have had a shot at the win," Daniel contemplated. "And if I hadn't got held up at the start..."
It's all part of the game, however, and Daniel is fully aware of that.
"I feel good about the weekend. I learned a lot and I'm happy to have my first podium finish," he said. "I'm improving all the time and hope to be on the top step of the podium soon."
Daniel's next race weekend is at Road America in Wisconsin, September 15-17.