Alexis DeJoria Brings Momentum into 2021 NHRA Season
-Toyota Camry Funny Car team will be backed by ROKiT and Bandero Premium Tequila-
AUSTIN, TX (February 23, 2021) --- NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria is ready to begin her quest for her first NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series world championship as the season gets underway in less than a month. The accomplished driver will once again get behind the wheel of her new-look black and white Toyota Camry Funny Car with familiar sponsor ROKiT as well as a new sponsor Bandero Premium Tequila, as the 70th NHRA season gets underway officially at the 52nd annual NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, March 12-14.
“I can’t wait to start this season with my ROKiT Toyota Camry and new sponsor Bandero Premium Tequila,” said DeJoria, a five-time Funny Car national event winner. “We finished last season with some strong performances and we are looking forward to picking up where we left on the performance side. (Crew Chiefs) Del (Worsham) and Nicky (Boninfante) will have this Camry Funny Car flying and I am ready to turn on some win lights this season.”
This season DeJoria is proud to represent ROKiT and Bandero Premium Tequila, two companies she has a vested interest in seeing succeed. This will be the second season for ROKiT to utilize NHRA as a marketing platform to promote the company’s phones, electric bikes and WiFi services. New to the team is Bandero, a smooth sipping tequila, handmade in small batches in Jalisco, Mexico, from the finest locally sourced, Blue Weber Agave.
“Being able to use a 330 mph race car to promote ROKiT products across the U.S. and having the best tequila on the market, Bandero, fuel this passion, is a match made in heaven,” said ROKiT co-founder, Jonathan Kendrick. “I know these race cars are incredibly powerful and the experience of seeing them in person or on TV makes incredible memories. We are excited to see Alexis chase her championship dreams.”
DeJoria added, “Both of these brands represent my passion and dedication to perfection, innovation and being true to yourself. The diversity of the ROKiT brands is massive and we are continuing to find ways to integrate into the NHRA. I am especially excited about introducing Bandero to my NHRA fans because the meticulousness that goes into making this tequila gives it an amazing flavor.”
DeJoria’s success last season picked up after the historic U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend, a race she won in 2014, and continued over the final five races of the season. She qualified in the top five each of the last five races and advanced to three semifinals in the last four races. Her first-year DC Motorsports team and ROKiT Funny Car earned the fourth-highest point total over the last half of the season. For the admittedly highly-competitive DeJoria those results only fueled her passion.
“We had a new team last year and it took some time to get squared away, but when we came together we were a very tough team,” added DeJoria, who will be looking to add to her 109 round win total in 2021. “This sport is about passion and pushing it to the limit. It is the perfect sport for me as well as my sponsors, ROKiT and Bandero Premium Tequila. When I get behind the wheel of this 330 mph Camry Funny Car I have to be totally committed and ready for anything. I have an amazing team behind me and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have a feeling this is going to be a great year for us.”
From the first pass of her return, Alexis DeJoria knew 'This is why I do what I do'
After two-year hiatus from the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, Alexis DeJoria returned to the tour in 2020 behind the wheel of the ROKiT Toyota Camry Funny Car. The five-time Funny Car national event winner teamed with former world champion Del Worsham to return to racing action. After an eventful season DeJoria took some time to look back at her successes as well as look ahead to the 2021 NHRA season.
Can you talk about the highlights of your 2020 season?
The highlight of the season I would say was coming off a two-year hiatus and having a great showing at the Winternationals in Pomona. We had a new team, and I hadn’t been out there for two years. Even with all that newness we went out and ran good numbers and made it to the semifinals. That was a huge, huge highlight for me. Unfortunately, after that our season got cut short and we had to sit for a while. When we did come back out, we struggled a little bit at first but as soon as the guys figured out the tune-up we were running really good and consistent. Coming back after being off for so long and getting back to running well in itself was a huge highlight, too.
What did you miss the most? What was it like getting back behind wheel of 11,000-hp Funny Car?
I missed my team. Really this is a racing family. Being away for two years was like losing 12 people that are your friends and family all at once. I missed that and the camaraderie. I missed those G forces! I missed going those speeds and driving my Toyota Camry Funny Car. I missed the competitiveness of the nitro Funny Car class.
I was excited, hands down, when I got back to the track. I wasn’t really nervous about driving the car as much as I was nervous about the warm-up and the minute little things like packing my parachute. Once we went through the warm-up and I had packed some chutes, everything was good. As soon as that Funny Car started up on the starting line that was it for me. I have been racing for quite a while, not as long as some of my competitors, but enough to feel good about getting back up on the horse again.
How did the 2020 season make you a better driver?
The few mishaps that I had this year, the explosion in St. Louis and then the fire in Dallas, definitely made me a better driver. Going through those experiences brings so much more to the table. Some drivers don’t ever experience those things. On the one hand, I am not happy it happened but on the other hand, I am grateful for the experience and to be able to walk away from it to race another day.
DEJORIA CLOSES WITH A FLOURISH
Takes ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota Camry to the Semifinals at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Buoyed by an impressive late season run that included semifinal appearances in three of the last four races in an abbreviated NHRA Camping World championship series, Alexis DeJoria left The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday counting down the days until the 2021 season opener.
After qualifying third and once more taking her ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota Camry to the semifinals, the former U.S. Nationals Funny Car champion ran afoul of newly-crowned series champ Matt Hagan, who prematurely ended her bid in the 20th annual Dodge Finals.
Although she failed to add a third LVMS victory to her resume, the Texas resident nevertheless was exhilarated by her car’s consistency over the last wo months during which she put together the best five-race qualifying performance of her professional career.
Over the final five events in an NHRA season abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the five-time pro tour winner qualified fifth, second, fifth, fifth and third. Her Toyota consistently has been the quickest Funny Car not running out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” DeJoria said of a team anchored by co-crew chiefs Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante. “We really came together as a team. It sucks that this is the last race but I’m beyond excited about the 2021 season. So, to Toyota, ROKiT Phones, ABK Beer and all the people that support us, thank you so much. Can’t wait to get this car back in the winners’ circle.”
The No. 3 qualifier behind only finalists Hagan and Ron Capps, DeJoria stopped Terry Haddock in round one with a solid 3.982 before improving to 3.930 in a quarterfinal victory over Blake Alexander to the utter delight of her father, John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products.
Although DeJoria won just four rounds in the season’s first seven races, she went 7-4 down the stretch to lock up the No. 8 position in Funny Car points, thereby realizing her pre-season goal of securing a Top 10 finish in her return to pro racing after a two-year absence.