Uncharacteristically Short Day for DeJoria at Final Southern Nationals
ATLANTA, GA (May 2, 2021) --- During the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season a handful of national events will be contested with only two rounds of qualifying on Saturday prior to Sunday’s eliminations. The reduction in qualifying sessions adds pressure on all the teams and puts a premium on each team’s lone two qualifying runs. The ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry Funny Car team and driver Alexis DeJoria were victims to the truncated qualifying sessions during the 40th NHRA Southern Nationals this weekend at Atlanta Dragway. The team was looking for performance consistency and opted to run their back-up race car which upon further inspection was the root of their qualifying and race day issues.
On Saturday in the first session DeJoria and her ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota dropped a cylinder right off the starting line and had to click their runoff early. The tricky track had a number of teams aborting runs throughout the day. Coming back for the second session DeJoria and her team were prepared to move up the ladder from their provisional No. 12 spot. In the second session running beside Jim Campbell, DeJoria rolled in to stage and the staging bulb began to flicker. As DeJoria continued to attempt to stage she was timed out and did not get a second qualifying time. Her qualifying effort from the first session placed the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Funny Car in the field as the No. 14 qualifier.
On race day matching up with No. 1 qualifier J.R. Todd, DeJoria suffered the same starting line issue and was timed out again. It was a very uncharacteristic result for the top shelf team and following the race DeJoria talked with Fox Sports reporter Bruno Massel at the top end.
“I am glad I had some time to take a few breaths because I am super-heated right now,” said DeJoria, a five-time Funny Car national event winner. “This is what happened to us in the second qualifying session yesterday. We just have to take it back to the pits and figure it out. We pulled the car from last year out to run this race to just see if we could get both cars dialed in and it has been giving us a little bit of a headache. This isn’t the way you want to lose the first round or any round really. You want to give yourself a fair chance. I am pretty upset that it was the last Southern Nationals and I was hoping to get a win here. (Crew chief) Del (Worsham) won his first race here his rookie year in Funny Car. It would have been nice to get another win for our team but we will move on to the next race.”
At the end of the day the team realized the carbon fiber body of the Toyota Camry sat lower on the back-up race car chassis and was interfering with the staging beams. The ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry team will be back on track for the Carolina Four-Wide Nationals at ZMax Dragway in Charlotte in two weeks.
Q1: 8.386 sec, 82.21 mph; Qual. 12
Q2: No Time; Qual. 14
Bonus Points: 0
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Alexis DeJoria 14 Timed Out
J.R. Todd 1 .141 4.003 321.73 (W)
DETERMINED DEJORIA HEADS TO FINAL SOUTHERN NATIONALS
AUSTIN, TX (April 28, 2021) --- While the 40th Southern Nationals will be the swan song for the fabled NHRA national event held at Atlanta Dragway just north of Atlanta, Georgia, Funny Car racer Alexis DeJoria will be looking to add her name to a legendary list of Funny Car winners. Since Tripp Shumake won the inaugural event, names like Raymond Beadle, Kenny Bernstein, John Force and Ed McCulloch have hoisted the Funny Car Wally in victory. DeJoria’s current crew chief Del Worsham captured his first win at the 1991 event as a 21 year-old rookie.
“The Southern Nationals has a lot of history for sure,” said DeJoria. “Del got his first win in Atlanta his rookie year and he was the youngest person to every win a Funny Car national event. To be able to win the last Southern Nationals with Del as my crew chief would be pretty awesome.”
Momentum Building As Alexis DeJoria Leaves First Vegas Four-Wide
LAS VEGAS, NV (April 18, 2021) --- The ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry Funny Car team and driver Alexis DeJoria rolled into The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looking to continue their high level of performance. At the end of the 21stNHRA Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals DeJoria and the team knew they had a strong race car and positive momentum as the 2021 season got underway.
DeJoria steadily improved throughout qualifying on Friday and Saturday. In the final session the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Funny Car blasted to the top with a blistering 3.912 second pass that moved her to No. 1 with one quad left to run. DeJoria settled for the No. 3 qualifier position after Robert Hight and John Force improved to close out Funny Car qualifying. The strong effort extended the team’s streak of top five qualifying positions to seven races and counting.
Heading into the first round of race day facing three competitors in the first quad DeJoria was focused on a first round win. As the drivers were staging Chad Green in the far right fourth lane had issues staging, ultimately timing out. DeJoria got to the stripe beside Tim Wilkerson and both drivers advanced to the second quad ahead of Terry Haddock. DeJoria’s advancing time of 3.950 seconds at 321.73 mph was a stout run for the first session.
In the second round the quad DeJoria and the ROKiT team faced was stacked with experience with the addition of world champions as Matt Hagan and John Force. All the race cars launched together and as DeJoria’s Camry Funny Car was charging her blower belt shredded as she approached half-track, robbing her race car of much needed power. The No. 3 qualifier was forced to watch Wilkerson and Hagan drive away from her.
“We have a great race car. This ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry continues to do really well in qualifying and on race day,” said DeJoria. “I am so proud of this team. We lost a blower belt on that last run at about 400 feet. I was on a great run and who knows what could have happened. I love getting in this race car because I know this Camry Funny Car has a chance to go to the top of the field on qualifying or win rounds on Sunday. The last run we made on Saturday was awesome and we got a strong first round win today. This team is going to keep grinding. I know Del and Nicky are the best and we will be ready for Atlanta.”
DeJoria will take the quarterfinal finish and her standings as the No. 8 Funny Car in the Top Ten and turn her focus to the NHRA Southern Nationals in two weeks.
Q1: 4.089 sec, 264.49 mph; Qual. 9
Q2: 3.976 sec, 318.77 mph; Qual. 6
Q3: 3.912 sec, 321.04 mph; Qual. 3
Bonus Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q3)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Tim Wilkerson 11 .131 3.919 327.19 (W)
Alexis DeJoria 3 .142 3.950 321.73 (W)
Terry Haddock 14 .152 4.069 309.42
Chad Green 6 Broke Before Staging
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Matt Hagan 7 .064 3.927 325.06 (W)
Tim Wilkerson 11 .097 3.947 325.14 (W)
John Force 2 .075 4.049 304.60
Alexis DeJoria 3 .136 4.257 220.30