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)
AUSTIN, TX (April 28, 2021) --- While the 40th Southern Nationals will be the swan song for the fabled NHRA national event held at Atlanta Dragway just north of Atlanta, Georgia, Funny Car racer Alexis DeJoria will be looking to add her name to a legendary list of Funny Car winners. Since Tripp Shumake won the inaugural event, names like Raymond Beadle, Kenny Bernstein, John Force and Ed McCulloch have hoisted the Funny Car Wally in victory. DeJoria’s current crew chief Del Worsham captured his first win at the 1991 event as a 21 year-old rookie.
“The Southern Nationals has a lot of history for sure,” said DeJoria. “Del got his first win in Atlanta his rookie year and he was the youngest person to every win a Funny Car national event. To be able to win the last Southern Nationals with Del as my crew chief would be pretty awesome.”
LAS VEGAS, NV (April 18, 2021) --- The ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry Funny Car team and driver Alexis DeJoria rolled into The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looking to continue their high level of performance. At the end of the 21stNHRA Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals DeJoria and the team knew they had a strong race car and positive momentum as the 2021 season got underway.
DeJoria steadily improved throughout qualifying on Friday and Saturday. In the final session the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Funny Car blasted to the top with a blistering 3.912 second pass that moved her to No. 1 with one quad left to run. DeJoria settled for the No. 3 qualifier position after Robert Hight and John Force improved to close out Funny Car qualifying. The strong effort extended the team’s streak of top five qualifying positions to seven races and counting.
Heading into the first round of race day facing three competitors in the first quad DeJoria was focused on a first round win. As the drivers were staging Chad Green in the far right fourth lane had issues staging, ultimately timing out. DeJoria got to the stripe beside Tim Wilkerson and both drivers advanced to the second quad ahead of Terry Haddock. DeJoria’s advancing time of 3.950 seconds at 321.73 mph was a stout run for the first session.
In the second round the quad DeJoria and the ROKiT team faced was stacked with experience with the addition of world champions as Matt Hagan and John Force. All the race cars launched together and as DeJoria’s Camry Funny Car was charging her blower belt shredded as she approached half-track, robbing her race car of much needed power. The No. 3 qualifier was forced to watch Wilkerson and Hagan drive away from her.
“We have a great race car. This ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry continues to do really well in qualifying and on race day,” said DeJoria. “I am so proud of this team. We lost a blower belt on that last run at about 400 feet. I was on a great run and who knows what could have happened. I love getting in this race car because I know this Camry Funny Car has a chance to go to the top of the field on qualifying or win rounds on Sunday. The last run we made on Saturday was awesome and we got a strong first round win today. This team is going to keep grinding. I know Del and Nicky are the best and we will be ready for Atlanta.”
DeJoria will take the quarterfinal finish and her standings as the No. 8 Funny Car in the Top Ten and turn her focus to the NHRA Southern Nationals in two weeks.
Q1: 4.089 sec, 264.49 mph; Qual. 9
Q2: 3.976 sec, 318.77 mph; Qual. 6
Q3: 3.912 sec, 321.04 mph; Qual. 3
Bonus Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q3)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Tim Wilkerson 11 .131 3.919 327.19 (W)
Alexis DeJoria 3 .142 3.950 321.73 (W)
Terry Haddock 14 .152 4.069 309.42
Chad Green 6 Broke Before Staging
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Matt Hagan 7 .064 3.927 325.06 (W)
Tim Wilkerson 11 .097 3.947 325.14 (W)
John Force 2 .075 4.049 304.60
Alexis DeJoria 3 .136 4.257 220.30
AUSTIN, TX (April 15, 2021) --- Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria will be heading to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway focused on adding one more accomplishment to her impressive record. She will be looking for her first career four-wide national event win at a track where she has had success in the past. DeJoria celebrated victories in the desert in 2014 and 2016 at the Las Vegas NHRA Nationals before the track underwent a major reconstruction to add two additional lanes. DeJoria will be looking to keep her ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry Funny Car on the right track this weekend.
“I am looking forward to racing Vegas because it will be my first Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip,” said DeJoria. “I’ve had success there before but I have never won an actual four-wide race yet. My dad turned 80 this week on the 13th and he will be at the races. I would love to give him a Wally as a present.”
It has been over a year since any professional driver has tackled the unique four-wide racing format and DeJoria will be right in the thick of the competition. Her best four-wide performance was 2014 when she raced to the final quad at the Carolina Nationals.
At the season opening Gatornationals the ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Funny Car team qualified No. 2 on the strength of their 3.914 second pass and DeJoria advanced to the quarterfinals. In the first round she posted a 3.918 second run mirroring her best qualifying effort. The confidence in her team led by crew chiefs Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante has DeJoria thrilled to get to the second race of the season.
“Del and Nicky work so well together and they have an amazing handle on the tune-up on this Toyota Funny Car,” said DeJoria. “When I get strapped in I know I am going to have a great shot at a top qualifying spot or a round win. Having them on my team lets me focus on my job as a driver. This whole ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila team really came together down the home stretch of last season and we got off to a solid start in Gainesville. I am expecting great things this season starting in Las Vegas.”
DeJoria finished the 2020 season with five consecutive Top Five qualifying starts. No other driver can boast that consistency and she kept the streak alive with a No. 2 start at the Gatornationals this season. The ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila team has also avoided any first round losses over the last six races with three semifinal finishes.
Qualifying for the 21st NHRA Las Vegas Nationals will begin Friday, April 16 and continue into Saturday April 17. FS1 will televise one and half hours of live qualifying coverage at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Friday. Final eliminations will start on Sunday, March 18 at 3 p.m. (ET) and will be broadcasted beginning at 8 p.m. (ET) on FS1.
GAINESVILLE, FL (March 14, 2021) --- Starting the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season at the 52nd annual NHRA Gatornationals for the first time did not phase Alexis DeJoria. The veteran driver powered her ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry to the No. 2 qualifying position and continued her qualifying dominance in the category. The last time DeJoria and her Toyota Camry Funny Car raced at the Gators they qualified No. 5 which began an active streak of six consecutive Top Five qualifying starts including this weekend’s strong performance.
“These crew guys are doing so well to start the season,” said DeJoria, who has five Funny Car national event wins to her credit. “(Co-crew chiefs) Nicky (Boninfante) and Del (Worsham) are tuning this Toyota up and it is making some killer runs. I am excited about going to the next race because we have a great race car. We have been a top five qualifier the past six races going back to last season. We got bonus points this weekend and were the No. 2 qualifier so that is a great start.”
In the opening round DeJoria matched up with John Smith and her ROKiT Funny Car team was not taking the Paul Smith tuned opponent lightly. She blasted off the starting line and lit the scoreboard 3.918 seconds later which was the second quickest run of the day. It was a dominant first round win for the ROKiT team. Following the run DeJoria’s crew chief Del Worsham had high praise for his driver.
“She kept it right in the groove. It was moving around at the top end,” said Worsham. “It is getting slick up there. Paul Smith is a tough customer and we knew we had to run well. For ROKiT, Bandero, Toyota, Fatheadz and all our other sponsors that was a good way to start the race. I am glad we got that round win and we’ll get back to work.”
At the beginning of the event DeJoria announced a new technical partnership alongside TRD (Toyota Racing Development), with ExxonMobil who expanded its current team roster within NHRA. ExxonMobil has enjoyed a partnership with Kalitta Motorsports and will also continue that winning relationship into the 2021 season. Under the expanded agreement, ExxonMobil will supply DeJoria and her team with its Drag Racing motor oil, along with other lubricants, while also providing engineering support throughout the season.
“Having Mobil 1 and TRD onboard is incredible because they bring the science and technology with what they do to help our team,” said DeJoria. “It is very beneficial to us. We also have some new sponsors like Bandero Tequila and Fatheadz, who outfitted our entire team with sunglasses. We have the whole crew from past year which is nice since all these guys work really hard and are a joy to work with. We all gel and this is going to be a good year.”
In the second round facing two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon DeJoria slowed from her first round elapsed time and she was ousted in the quarterfinals. The team was looking at the performance drop off culprit. It was an unfortunate turn of events during an otherwise successful weekend that will see DeJoria leave Florid No. 6 in the Camping World point standings and with momentum at the beginning of the season.
“We have a really fast hot rod with this ROKiT Toyota Camry Funny Car. In the second round we had a little issue which we are trying to figure out. It just fell off on performance at 200 feet. I am working on my reaction times, too. I am just going to keep working on it. My Toyota Funny Car is so consistent that gives me a lot of confidence. I have been racing long enough to know what to do and we will get everything working together,” added DeJoria.
Q1: 3.914 sec, 324.28 mph; Qual. 2
Q2: 4.611 sec, 156.25 mph; Qual. 2
Q3: 3.948 sec, 316.90 mph; Qual. 2
Bonus Points: +3 (2nd quickest of Q1 and 3rd quickest of Q3)
E1: Alexis DeJoria, Austin, Texas, ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry, 3.918, 324.12 mph def. John Smith, Anderson, SC, Rock Racing Batteries Dodge Charger, 5.457, 136.90 mph
E2: Cruz Pedregon, Brownsburg, IN, Snap-On Dodge Charger, 3.989, 319.90 mph def. Alexis DeJoria, Austin, Texas, ROKiT Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota Camry, 4.031, 320.20 mph