Winternationals Net Dejoria Quarterfinal Finish
POMONA, CA (August 1, 2021) --- The Bandero Premium Tequila ROKiT Toyota Camry Funny Car and driver Alexis DeJoria took on an unseasonably hot NHRA Winternationals this weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Two days of qualifying had DeJoria’s team battling to get a handle on a hot track. In the final qualifying session last night DeJoria’s Toyota Funny Car flew to the No. 6 spot in the field and a first round match-up with Jason Rupert.
Earlier in qualifying Rupert suffered a major engine explosion and it was too much for the start-up team to overcome in time for the first round of competition. DeJoria would receive a competition bye run in the first round and the team was looking to take advantage of a “free” run to get prepared for what everyone was considering a challenging day on the race track.
The Bandero Tequila ROKiT Funny Car lined up in the right lane for the solo run. DeJoria launched hard and as she approached the 330 feet mark her race car was dropping cylinders. Her team remotely shut off her race car to preserve parts before heading into the quarterfinals.
Temperatures continued to climb throughout the day and as the quarterfinals approached track temperatures soared to over 140 degrees. The hot track conditions made corralling the power generated by these 11,000 horsepower land rockets a tall order for crew chiefs in all the nitro categories. DeJoria would be racing Jim Campbell for a chance to go into her fourth consecutive semifinal round.
DeJoria took a strong starting line reaction time advantage and was pulling away from Campbell when her blower belt broke and she lost power. She was helpless to watch as Campbell drove around her for the win. It was a tough loss for a team that is one of the hottest in the category.
“Pomona was definitely our worst showing of the Western Swing,” said DeJoria. “We had somewhat of a bye on our first run today when Jason Rupert blew up yesterday and couldn’t make it to first round. Then we had Jim Campbell in the second round and we had him, then the bolts were completely sheared off the flywheel and our blower belt broke. I was dead in the water down there and here comes Jim Campbell. He passed me and that was the end.”
The dominance of the Bandero Tequila ROKiT team has DeJoria stoked for the end of the regular season and the upcoming Countdown. The team is just over three rounds out of third place in the Funny Car standings.
“We’ve been on a roll going to semis and qualifying really well. We have a week off and then we are going to hit Topeka,” said DeJoria. “I don’t want to go home right now. I wish we had another race to go to because I know how hot this car is. You can’t do anything about parts breaking and things like that, but we are right on the edge and it’s going to happen. I’m just proud of my guys. They’ve done a terrific job having been on the road for three weeks. We’ll just take everything back to the shop, go through it and get ready for the next race.”
Alexis DeJoria 6 .248 7.972 77.94 (W)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Alexis DeJoria 6 .075 4.797 175.87
For NHRA’s Alexis DeJoria, things are looking up
The Orange County Register - If you need a hint, the fact that the Winternationals are taking place in Pomona as July turns to August is a reminder that COVID-19 scrambled the NHRA schedule just as much as it did that of any other sport.
Alexis DeJoria needs no reminder, nor does drag racing legend Del Worsham. DeJoria, 43, is the driver of the ROKiT/ABK Beer Toyota Camry and Worsham runs the Orange-based DC Motorsports team for which she drives, and they and their teammates are starting to hit their stride after a pandemic-scrambled beginning.
DeJoria is seventh in the overall Funny Car standings coming into Pomona for a race weekend that under normal circumstances is held in February. In her last three events, she’s advanced to a semifinal, a final and a semifinal, and she’s been second in qualifying five times and third once in nine events. So while she has yet to win in her return to the track, the feeling in her garage is that it’s a matter of time.
“I believe once we break through, we’ll probably flood through it and do it multiple times,” Worsham said in a phone conversation Thursday. “There’s still another level that we all need to rise to, that we’re not 100 percent there yet. What’s cool is that at least we know there’s room for improvement. We haven’t maxed out. We know it’s going to take more, and there’s more in this team, there’s more in the car and there’s more in the driver.”
DeJoria On Hot Streak Heading to Winternationals
POMONA, CA (July 29, 2021) --- Back-to-back strong races at the first two stops on the NHRA Western Swing have Alexis DeJoria and the Bandero Premium Tequila ROKiT Toyota Camry Funny Car team ready to get to the NHRA Winternationals. Two weeks ago DeJoria raced to a runner-up finish in Denver and last weekend the five-time Funny Car national event winner secured another semifinal finish at the Sonoma Nationals. Over the past six races DeJoria has raced to four semifinals or better and has qualified No. 2 four times and never worse than No. 6.
“I can’t tell you how much fun I am having driving this Bandero Tequila ROKiT Toyota Camry,” said DeJoria. “I know our first win is right around the corner. We just need one or two things to fall our way. The Western Swing has flown by and I can’t believe we’ll be in Pomona this weekend.”
The last time DeJoria strapped into her 11,000 horsepower Toyota Camry Funny Car at the Winternationals it was her first race back competing after a two year absence. She showed no signs of rust as she raced to the semifinals. Her return season was derailed by the pandemic but the tenacious DeJoria battled through the uncertainty and finished the season strong with three semifinal finishes over the final four races. She picked up this season right where she left off, continuing to qualify at our near the top of the Funny Car field and turning on win lights with regularity on race day.
Getting back to her home track, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, could be the perfect combination for DeJoria to grab her first win of the 2021 season. The repositioning of the Winternationals to the middle of the summer has all the NHRA competitors feeling uncertain about how their race cars will react to a warmer than usual track surface.
“Running the Winternationals in the summer is going to be interesting,” said DeJoria, as the Western Swing was unfolding. “It is going to be wild and pretty hot. Pomona is my hometown track. I will have all my friends and family out there that I don’t get to see all the time. That will be nice. Pomona is a classic and that is a win that I have always wanted.”
The Denver final round appearance two weeks ago was DeJoria’s first since her return to racing at the beginning of the 2020 NHRA season. The last time she was in a final round was August 2017 when she defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. to win the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota. DeJoria did not compete in 2018 and 2019.
The Bandero Tequila ROKiT team sits seventh in NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car points. They are less than three rounds out of third place with four races left in the regular season. A strong showing at the Winternationals could easily propel DeJoria to the top half of the Top Ten with the NHRA Countdown on the horizon when points will be reset for a final charge to the championship.
Qualifying will begin at the Winternationals on Friday, July 30, with an evening qualifying session which is sure to produce low elapsed times and high speeds. Two sessions will follow on Saturday with final eliminations beginning Sunday morning at 11 a.m. local time. The race will be broadcast on Fox from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. PDT.