Race Reports

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Jeff Arend: Driver of the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car

Note: Jeff Arend is filling-in for Tequila Patrón Funny Car pilot Alexis DeJoria as she recovers from a racing-related concussion.

The Results:
Q1: 4.408 E.T. at 204.91 MPH
Q2: 3.930 E.T. at 317.19 MPH (career best E.T. for Arend)
Q3: 6.149 E.T. at 109.34 MPH
Q4: 5.803 E.T. at 120.90 MPH

The Competition:
No. 10 Jeff Arend vs. No. 7 Matt Hagan (LC)

Quotable:

Jeff Arend, Driver
Overall it's been a great weekend so far. We did what we set out to accomplish. We made a good 3.93 run last night. Unfortunately, with me being heavier than Alexis, and having a heavier body on the car, we're working on the little things to try and get the car to run quicker every time. We already knew we were in the show so today's both runs were testing for tomorrow. Q3 was about seeing what we could get away with, and the second run we were trying to run a 3.80 or a low 3.90. It didn't make it either time but we have a good tune-up for race day tomorrow and I'm looking forward to making Alexis proud. We miss her out here, all of her fans miss her, and we hope to have a great day tomorrow.

Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography. Hi res images available upon request

About Tequila Patrón
From hand-harvesting the highest-quality 100 percent Weber Blue Agave, to the traditional, time-honored distillation process and individual labeling, numbering, and inspection of each bottle, Patrón tequila is crafted with meticulous precision and care. Though Patrón has grown to become one of the most-recognized and respected luxury spirits brands in the world, it is still exclusively produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, in the same small batches and with the same commitment to quality and craftsmanship. For more information about Patrón tequilas and liqueurs, please visit www.patrontequila.com.

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POMONA, Calif. (November 8, 2016)— The 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has been a roller-coaster ride for Alexis DeJoria and her Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team, but they are determined to finish the season strong.

At the most recent event, the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Team Patrón elected to not compete in Sunday’s elimination rounds. The difficult decision followed an incident that occurred on Saturday’s third round of qualifying. Past the finish line, DeJoria experienced a series of mechanical malfunctions that caused her Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry to careen uncontrollably across the race track and make contact with the left retaining wall.  DeJoria’s head whipped hard into the left roll cage head pad as a result of the collision. Fueled by adrenaline, DeJoria exited the vehicle unassisted and initially felt fine. Not until later that evening did she begin to feel the effects of the high-powered impact, waking up the next morning with concussion-like symptoms.

Always a fighter, DeJoria had her heart set on racing, but after consulting with her crew chiefs, the team made the difficult decision to withdraw from the race and focus on closing out the season strong at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, California.

Upon returning to her home in Austin, Texas, DeJoria was evaluated by medical professionals at Texas Sport and Family Medicine and was diagnosed with a concussion. DeJoria’s treating physicians ruled her out of the final event of the 2016 season.

“I underwent a series of cognitive tests and the doctors diagnosed me with a full-blown concussion that required me to step away from the seat for the time being,” said DeJoria, who has already had to miss two other races earlier in the season due to a fractured pelvis, also caused by a side-impact crash.

“It takes two weeks for these symptoms to subside and even then, because of the trauma from the concussion, it would be unsafe for me to race this weekend. To go out and get behind the wheel of a 10,000-horsepower race car with its high g-forces and the possibility of tire shake, would just be too traumatic for my head in its sensitive state. I’ve never been a quitter and never will be, but I must accept my fate and sit this last race out.”

The news was a devastating blow to DeJoria who desperately wanted to close out the year on a positive note with her team. Despite not being able to compete, DeJoria still wants to see her Patrón Toyota Camry in the Winners Circle before the year’s end. DeJoria consulted with Kalitta Motorsports patriarch Connie Kalitta and her father, John Paul DeJoria. The trio decided to bring in a substitute driver for the final event of 2016.

“A lot has happened this year. We started off strong with a win and a No. 1 qualifier right after. It’s been a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, with the downs being pretty severe- a concussion in Denver, a pelvic fracture in Sonoma and then another concussion in Vegas. It’s been a very trying year for our team. I had a discussion with my father and Connie Kalitta and we all agreed that we thought it would be really wonderful for my team to end on a positive note, and finish the year out. We decided to have someone fill the seat and take our beautiful Patrón Camry down the track at the World Finals”

Jeff Arend was chosen as the ideal replacement. Arend drove the Kalitta Motorsports DHL Funny Car during DeJoria’s rookie season and worked alongside current DHL Funny Car pilot Del Worsham to assist DeJoria in getting her Funny Car license in 2011.

“I’m extremely honored and excited to drive the Patrón Toyota Camry in Pomona,” said Arend, who resides in nearby La Verne. “I look forward to representing Alexis and Patrón, and hopefully put this car in the Winners Circle in front of my family and friends. Thank you to Alexis, John Paul [DeJoria] and Kalitta Motorsports for this opportunity.”

Doctors have ordered DeJoria to abstain from flying until she has experienced a full recovery. While she cannot physically be at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, she will be there in spirit and is counting down the days until she can get back behind the wheel of her Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry and begin her campaign for the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Championship.

“It’s going to be hard for me not to be there but I’m thinking long term. I need to get myself healthy and focus on coming back strong next year,” said DeJoria, a four-time Funny Car winner.

Jeff Arend and the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team will begin qualifying for the 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals on Friday, November 11 at 12:45 PM. Alexis DeJoria is scheduled to return to NHRA competition at the 2017 Circle K NHRA Winternationals.  

Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography. Hi res images available upon request

About Alexis DeJoria

Alexis DeJoria is a professional race car driver competing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. DeJoria drives the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry as a member of the legendary Kalitta Motorsports team. DeJoria, who had the opportunity to pursue any type of career, felt strongly about following her passion, and her need for adrenaline drove her to pursue the unlikely profession of auto-racing. The determination to ‘blaze her own trail’ continues to drive her and push her to higher levels in the sport of NHRA drag racing. She is a four-time Funny Car winner and made history when she became the first woman to compete in 100 Funny Car events.

About Tequila Patrón

From hand-harvesting the highest-quality 100 percent Weber Blue Agave, to the traditional, time-honored distillation process and individual labeling, numbering, and inspection of each bottle, Patrón tequila is crafted with meticulous precision and care. Though Patrón has grown to become one of the most-recognized and respected luxury spirits brands in the world, it is still exclusively produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, in the same small batches and with the same commitment to quality and craftsmanship. For more information about Patrón tequilas and liqueurs, please visit www.patrontequila.com

LAS VEGAS (October 30, 2016)— Alexis DeJoria and the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team will not compete at the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals.

The team has elected not to participate in Sunday's elimination rounds and will focus their efforts on regrouping for the 52nd Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, California, November 11-13.

About Alexis DeJoria
Alexis DeJoria is a professional race car driver competing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. DeJoria drives the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry as a member of the legendary Kalitta Motorsports team. DeJoria, who had all of the opportunity in the world to pursue any type of career, felt strongly about following her passion, and her need for adrenaline drove her to pursue the unlikely profession of auto-racing. The determination to 'blaze her own trail' continues to drive her and push her to higher levels in the sport of NHRA drag racing. She is a four-time Funny Car winner and made history when she became the first woman to compete in 100 Funny Car events.

About Tequila Patrón
From hand-harvesting the highest-quality 100 percent Weber Blue Agave, to the traditional, time-honored distillation process and individual labeling, numbering, and inspection of each bottle, Patrón tequila is crafted with meticulous precision and care. Though Patrón has grown to become one of the most-recognized and respected luxury spirits brands in the world, it is still exclusively produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, in the same small batches and with the same commitment to quality and craftsmanship. For more information about Patrón tequilas and liqueurs, please visit www.patrontequila.com.

Alexis DeJoria

Alexis DeJoria: Driver of the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car

The Results:
Q1: 4.614 E.T. at 177.79 MPH
Q2: 3.909 E.T. at 326.32 MPH
Q3: 3.915 E.T. at 325.92 MPH (one bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 5.678 E.T. at 123.55 MPH

The Competition:
No. 9 Alexis DeJoria vs. No. 8 Courtney Force (LC)

Quotable:
Alexis DeJoria, Driver
Las Vegas is one of my favorite tracks. I've had half of my Funny Car wins here. It's also somewhat of a home track for me because my family has had a house out here for quite a long time.

Qualifying was a 50/50 this weekend. We made some good runs. Unfortunately, during Q3 we made a really good run- I got a bonus point and top speed- but then my parachute got sucked up underneath my Patrón Toyota Camry and wrapped around the rear end. I lost brakes, couldn't stop the car and somehow my left tire was wedged into the body so I couldn't steer it either. The malfunctions were like a domino effect. In that moment, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and there I was just headed for that wall again. I hit the wall pretty hard, but overall I was fine. It rung my bell a little bit, but my body felt fine. That says a lot about all of the changes they made to my seat after Sonoma. After Q3, we brought my car back to the pit, pulled the back-up body out and were able to run the same chassis for Q4.

I'll be ready for tomorrow. I'm racing my girl Courtney and it'll be an exciting race.

Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography. Hi res images available upon request

Alexis DeJoria NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Funny Car Race Car Driver is interviewed by David Cogan of Eliances Heroes radio show. The discuss the incredible support she receives from family despite the dangerous nature of her career. Breaking down barriers in a male dominated sport Dejoria brings passion and a fighter's attitude to the track. She also shares lessons learned from her famous father, the co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems and Patron Spirits.