Final Quad Appearance Caps Busy Day For DeJoria
CHARLOTTE, NC (May 16, 2021) --- Three rounds of racing today showed that the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry Funny Car and driver Alexis DeJoria will be a tough team to handle as the NHRA season ramps up. The 11th NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals highlighted the strength of DeJoria’s race car and also showcased her skill behind the wheel.
“We had a very positive day today. What a turnaround from last race,” said DeJoria. “Our ROKiT/Bandero Toyota Camry was consistent. We qualified number two. We were the best of the opening round and won the first two quads. Any time you see a win light come on, it’s an ego booster. We were just on it today.”
The experienced driver made the most of two days of qualifying posting impressive times including the quickest run of Friday night that earned her three qualifying bonus points and the provisional No. 1 spot. On Saturday she was bumped back one position but entered race day as the No. 2 Funny Car on the property and a favorite to go rounds.
DeJoria and the ROKiT Bandero Tequila team did not disappoint as the blasted down the track in the first round winning their quad and lighting up the scoreboard with an impressive 3.903 second run. It was the second quickest run of the event and brought the near capacity crowd at zMAX Dragway to their feet.
In the second round quad DeJoria was matched up with a very tough trio of drivers including Bob Tasca III, Matt Hagan and Cruz Pedregon. Once again DeJoria showed an aggressive attitude jumping off the starting line just behind Hagan and then racing to victory posting the quickest run of her round. The win moved DeJoria into the first final quad of her career at the four-wide national events.
The final quad featured her Toyota teammate J.R. Todd, John Force and Pedregon. It was a line-up of heavy hitters and DeJoria held her own to close out her race day. DeJoria, Todd and Force left the starting line with nearly identical reaction times and all three Funny Cars were storming down their respective lanes. DeJoria’s race car was mixing up cylinders throughout the run and uncharacteristically slowed to 4.057 seconds, her second slowest elapsed time of the weekend.
“I honestly felt like it was going to be our day, but in the finals, unfortunately we dropped a cylinder at the step,” said DeJoria. ”Then more down track and that was it for the day. My reaction times are coming around. We’re just figuring things out and I know we’re going to win a race very soon. We’re going to stay and test here tomorrow at zMAX and get both cars on point. We’re going to bring the back-up car we ran in Atlanta out and make sure it’s all good. You never know when you’re going to need to pull that second car out and it needs to be just as good as the first one. In Houston, we need to do the same thing as we did here – good runs in qualifying and staying consistent.”
The success on the track moved DeJoria up to sixth in the Funny Car point standings and also moved her closer to the fifth and fourth place Funny Cars. The team will head to Houston Raceway Park for the NHRA SpringNationals set to kick-off Friday, May 21.
AUSTIN, TX (May 14, 2021) --- The NHRA Carolina Four-Wide Nationals are Alexis DeJoria’s second shot this season driving the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry Funny Car in one of drag racing’s most unique events. With over 40,000 horsepower on the starting line the round by round competitors almost equal an entire starting grid of most NASCAR races as soon as they hit the throttle pedal. That kind of raw power is what draws thousands of fans to zMAX Dragway and has led to a sellout crowd for Saturday’s final day of qualifying. It is also what fires up self-described adrenaline junkie DeJoria to suit up and strap in for a 320 mph ride throughout the season.
“There is nothing like sitting on the starting line with a Funny Car on either side of you,” said DeJoria. “When we are all doing burnouts before a run it is an amazing sound and you feel the ground move. Four nitro Funny Cars or Top Fuel dragster racing at the same time is one of the coolest things we get to do.”
Earlier this season at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway DeJoria qualified No. 3 and made a strong first round run. In the second quad a broken blower belt stole her chance to advance to the final quad and an opportunity to pick up her first four-wide nationals win. In 2014 at zMAX Dragway DeJoria raced in the final quad ultimately finishing third. The format of being first or second to the finish line has its advantages and disadvantages for the ultra-competitive racer who calls Austin, Texas home.
“The first couple of rounds of a four-wide race are wild because you just have to be either the first or second race car to the finish line to go to the next round,” said DeJoria. “If you smoke the tires you really have to take a chance about getting back on the throttle because someone else could be in trouble too. Getting off the starting line clean and building some momentum down track a lot of times is the key to victory at the four-wide.”
DeJoria’s ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Funny Car team is led by the only driver to have won in both Funny Car and Top Fuel at the zMAX Dragway Four-Wide Nationals, Del Worsham. The two-time world champion is recognized as one of the best drivers and tuners in the sport. Worsham, along with Nicky Bonifante, has set-up DeJoria’s Funny Car to be one of the quickest race cars on the property week in and week out.
“I can’t really put into words what Del and Nicky mean to our program,” said DeJoria. “They work so well together and the hours and hours they put into the race car to get it just right are impressive. Every time I strap in I know I have a race car that can go low or get a round win. As a driver that gives you a lot of confidence.”
This season DeJoria has qualified No. 2 and No. 3 at the events with two days of qualifying and has advanced to the second round in both events. Two weeks ago at the Southern Nationals an issue with the Funny Car body riding low on the chassis disrupted DeJoria’s staging process in the first round. The team evaluated and corrected the positioning. They are focused on putting the final race at Atlanta Dragway behind them.
“It was a frustrating turn of events for sure and we were able to go back and figure out what the issue was at the end of the race day,” explained DeJoria. “I am looking forward to getting to zMAX Dragway and making three great qualifying runs and then seeing three win lights on Sunday. We will be racing the next two weeks back-to-back and I am looking forward to getting into a solid racing groove.”
Qualifying for the 11th NHRA Carolina Four-Wide Nationals will begin Friday, May 14 and continues with two additional rounds on Saturday, May 15. Final eliminations will begin at noon on Sunday and will be broadcast on FS1.
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)