Alexis DeJoria Recounts First-Round Burnout Mishap at Richmond

Alexis Virgina Nationals

NORTH DINWIDDIE, Va. (June 23, 2024) – After battling challenging track conditions during Saturday’s three qualifying rounds to secure a starting position in the top half of the field, Alexis DeJoria felt she had the car to go rounds on race day at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals. An issue during her first-round burnout, however, prevented DeJoria from having a shot at making a run at her first Virginia Motorsports Park trophy.

During the two-day event in North Dinwiddie, Virginia near Richmond, DeJoria and the Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team saw steady improvement throughout qualifying. With temperatures soaring in the upper 90s throughout the weekend, teams had their work cut out for them as they attempted to make full passes down the VMP track, and the DC Motorsports team was no exception. In their first qualifying effort, DeJoria’s machine got loose just past halftrack but in round two, she took her Bandero GR Supra straight down the groove in 4.166 seconds at 304.05 mph to move into the No. 10 position. With a solid baseline to work off of, crew chief Del Worsham tuned DeJoria’s machine to an impressive 4.058 at 313.0 mph, which held up to be fifth-quickest of the session and vaulted DeJoria up to sixth on the Funny Car elimination ladder. The run set up a match with DeJoria’s Toyota teammate, No. 11 qualifier Ron Capps, to start race day.

Billed as NHRA’s Funny Car Marquee Matchup, DeJoria and Capps rolled into the waterbox ready to battle for their chance to race in the quarterfinals but just before they were set to run, Funny Car legend John Force experienced a horrific crash racing in the pair before them. Teams waited out a lengthy delay as NHRA worked to clean the track and ensure Force was safely transported for further evaluation. Once it was time to race again, DeJoria got back into her car and did her burnout but was unable to get her machine into reverse. The team was able to push DeJoria back to the starting line but was then unable to get the car to roll forward to stage, allowing Capps the opportunity to advance on a solo run.

“Being the marquee matchup against my buddy Ron Capps, another Toyota driver, it was a big round,” DeJoria said as she recounted the unusual set of circumstances surrounding Sunday’s first elimination round. “We felt good going into race day. Ran really well in qualifying, made it down the track two out of three runs. Ran that 4.05 in Q3 and qualified sixth. Going up there for round-one today, we were next pair in the waterbox and unfortunately, witnessed Force’s crash, which was so brutal. Got out of the car, and then we got the signal to get back in and we were ready to go. It’s hot out there, tough conditions, but I know we had the setup to win rounds today. Did the burnout, tried to back up, but the reverser went all the way into neutral, and I couldn’t back the car up. The guys had to come out and push me back. Even Del came out there and pushed me back and Chad Head (from Kalitta Motorsports) was out there behind my car backing me up. I want to thank Capps’ guys for waiting as long as they possibly could for us; they’re good guys. Got back to the starting line and tried to put it in forward and it was just grinding the gears, and I knew in that moment we were done. But, it’s been a very emotional couple of hours with Force’s crash. We’re all thinking of him and keeping him in our thoughts, and hope to see him back out here soon. He’s a fighter.”

DeJoria and the DC Motorsports team will leave Richmond ranked eighth in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series point standings, but they won’t have to wait long to have another shot at more win lights as the tour heads to Norwalk, Ohio next weekend for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

“I know we’ve got a great car, today was just a one-off,” DeJoria said. “But we’re putting it behind us. We’re going to stay and test tomorrow and get ready for Norwalk. Onto the next one.”

Qualifying for the Norwalk event kicks off at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, June 28.

Qualified: No. 6 (4.058 E.T. at 313.0 mph)

Elimination Round Results:
E1: Broke after the burnout (No Time) defeated by Ron Capps 4.094 E.T. at 317.94 mph