Explosive Performance, Literally and Figuratively, for ROKiT/ABK Toyota Camry
MADISON, Ill. (St. Louis) – In her best outing since returning this year to the NHRA pro tour, Alexis DeJoria qualified the ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota Camry in the No. 2 position and raced into the Funny Car semifinals before a massive supercharger explosion changed the momentum of Sunday’s 23rd Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway.
In the second round, as DeJoria neared the finish line at more than 320 miles per hour and prepared to deploy the parachutes after beating former world champion J.R. Todd, a cylinder misfired in the 11,000 horsepower engine. That failure started a chain reaction that led to a massive supercharger explosion that blew the body apart.
Although the explosion was spectacular, DeJoria was able to maintain her composure and get the car under control before it hit the retaining wall or anything else.
Despite the damage, crew chiefs Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante supervised a complete rebuild of the car and engine that enabled DeJoria to make the semifinal call to face former world champion Matt Hagan just 35 minutes later.
Unfortunately, there was no time to warm the engine and check all the systems and when DeJoria hit the throttle, she felt the car shake and had no choice but to abort the run as Hagan advanced in 3.938 seconds.
“It was definitely a crazy day,” said the five-time pro tour winner of an afternoon during which Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett and Ron Capps also had to deal with major failures. “Leah, Ron Capps, myself. It banged me up a little, but I think I’m all right. It was incredibly important (to get back in the car after the incident). I want to thank everyone who helped us (put the car back together). I think we had four teams that jumped in to help. We really are family out here.”
By reaching the semifinals, DeJoria solidified her hold on the No. 8 position in points with just three races remaining in a 2020 season reduced to 11 events by the COVID-19 pandemic. She will lead Paul Lee by three racing rounds when qualifying begins Oct. 17 in the 35th annual AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, the track on which DeJoria made her professional Funny Car debut in 2011.
She attributed her second semifinal appearance of the year to the team’s aggressive testing program which included two runs at Tulsa, Okla., Raceway Park won the way to Midwest Nationals.
“The car was running really good and consistent (until the explosion),” DeJoria said, “(and) getting past the second round felt so good. At least we’re good to race another day.”
The ROKiT Report with Alexis DeJoria
Driver of the ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer/Lucas Oil Toyota Camry Funny Car
Event: 23rd Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals
Site: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Madison, Ill. (St. Louis)
Qualifying position: No. 2 at 3.929 seconds, 288.21 miles per hour.
Qualifying bonus points: 2 for second quick time in Q1.
Race day results: Round 1, Alexis DeJoria, 3.907 seconds, 329.50 mph, def. Dale Creasy Jr., 5.624 seconds, 129.29 mph; Quarterfinals, Alexis DeJoria, 3.918 seconds, 322.96 mph, def. J.R. Todd, 6.559 seconds, 99.33 mph; Alexis DeJoria, 8.043 seconds, 87.47 mph, lost to Matt Hagan, 3.935 seconds, 328.62 mph.
Perspective: From her best qualifying position in her last 44 tour starts, Alexis took the ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota to the semifinals in her best ever result in the Mopar Express Lane Midwest Nationals.
2020 MIDWEST NATIONALS
Final Round Results:
FUNNY CAR – Tommy Johnson Jr., 3.884 seconds, 326.08 mph, def. Matt Hagan, 3.886, 333.00 mph.
TOP FUEL – Doug Kalitta, 3.690 seconds, 322.58 mph, def. Steve Torrence, 9.111, 82.58 mph.
PRO STOCK – Postponed due to track conditions.