Alexis DeJoria is Mad

Competition Plus – “I am mad because I am tired of losing. We all are. We have the team and the car and everything it takes right now to win,” the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry driver said. 

De Joria, whose final-round appearance at Denver offered a glimpse of her performance potential with this car and crew chiefs Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante, lost a heart-breaker to Cruz Pedregon in the second round at Topeka last weekend. They had identical 4.006-second elapsed times, and Pedregon won on a holeshot by a .0202-second margin, or about nine feet. He left first, with a .091-second reaction time to her .111. 

“It is upsetting because he was there for the taking,” DeJoria said. “If I would have had one of my normal lights from [that] weekend we would have won on a holeshot. That hurts more than anything.” 

“That four flat was probably the longest run ever,” she said. “Just seeing the hood of his car out my side window the entire way down was tough. I was hoping I would pass him, but I never did. I was upset with myself when I got back to my lounge and my guys said I could have five more minutes to be mad and then I needed to shake it off.” 

Ultimately, she said, “I am tough. That’s racing.” And that’s when she set her sights on this weekend at Brainerd. She’ll be taking one more shot at recording her first Funny Car victory since coming out of retirement – at the same racetrack where she won her most recent race, in 2017. Moreover, it’s where De Joria made track history by running the first sub-four-second Funny Car pass there in 2014. 

“That win [in 2017] was a big one for us, and we want to add to that total,” DeJoria said after grabbing the tentative No. 2 qualifying spot with a 3.963-second E.T. that only Bob Tasca III topped at 3.941 seconds. “We have a great race car and we have been close to getting a win this season. We have all the pieces in place, and we just need to get everything to come together on race day.” 

She has made a strong case for herself, advancing to the semifinals or beyond three times in the past five races and qualifying in the top two in six of 11 events this season. 

“Brainerd’s a great place. The fans are just incredible. We’ve run well [here]. I ran a track record [here]. I think we were the first Funny Car team to run a sub-four second pass there, so we had the track record there for a minute. We won there in 2017, and that was my last win [before a two-year pause],” she said. “We have a really good Bandero Tequila Toyota right now and a great team to go with it. [Coming] back to Brainerd feels pretty good.” 

She’ll feel even better when she clinches a Countdown playoff berth, as she is expected to do this weekend, presuming she has another strong performance. 

“Our goal from the beginning of the season was to race for the Camping World Funny Car championship, and you have to be in the Countdown to have a shot,” DeJoria said. “We can secure our spot this weekend, and then we can focus on winning the race.” 

DeJoria has had success during this stretch of the season with her 2017 win in Brainerd and in 2014 she picked up her historic win at the U.S Nationals. The fact that her team, which returned to competition last season, now has more than 20 national events together gives DeJoria even more confidence. 

“We figured a lot of things out last year, and we were running really well at the end of 2020,” she said. “This season I think we are working together even better, and you are seeing that in the numbers we are running in qualifying and on race day. If I do my job on the starting line, we have a tremendous 1-2 punch. I can’t wait to get into the fight.” 

She came out swinging Friday.