Alexis DeJoria’s strong start to the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season continued during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals as she raced to a runner-up finish on Sunday at Bristol Dragway. Facing defending series and event champion Ron Capps in the final round, DeJoria powered her Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra to a 3.999-second pass but was outpaced by Capps’ slightly quicker 3.998-second run.
DeJoria’s march to the 14th final round of her career, and second of the season, began with a round-one match versus Cruz Pedregon, which the Bandero team won on a single after Pedregon had a problem during his burnout and opted not to make the run.
In the quarterfinals, DeJoria left first and led Bobby Bode from start to finish, but her machine started mixing up cylinders late into the run, leading to an explosion as she crossed the finish line stripe and set off the win lights. Soon after, the thrash was on for the Bandero team as the crew quickly swapped the engine and turned DeJoria’s GR Supra around for the semifinals where she clocked her quickest pass of the weekend to defeat a tire-smoking Robert Hight.
In the final round, DeJoria faced Ron Capps, her opponent during the 2012 Bristol final, the first of DeJoria’s career, which she also contested with crew chief Del Worsham calling the shots. While Capps and DeJoria clocked nearly identical E.T.s, it was her opponent’s reaction time that allowed him to cross the finish line first to capture the win.
“We got some great points this weekend,” said DeJoria of her third Bristol final-round appearance, which also includes the DC Motorsports team’s 2021 victory from the pole. “At times, I didn’t think we had the combo to make it to the finals today. I’ve got to be on my game and the car has got to be on its game. First round was really odd with Cruz not being able to make the run, so we got lucky with that single. We had a fire in the second round and had to do an engine swap. To get to the semifinals was great, and then to make it to the finals was just incredible. It seems like the closer I get to the final round, the calmer and more at ease I feel. The first round is always the most stressful. The guys did a hell of a job getting this car turned around.
“Getting ready for the last two rounds was a grind. In addition to our second-round fire, my roof hatch flew off in the semis, which was crazy,” added DeJoria, whose Bristol performance secured a spot in the upcoming Norwalk, Ohio #2Fast2Tasty Challenge. “But, we had some help from the Kalitta (Motorsports) teams which was nice. I want to thank everyone for pitching in, and I especially want to thank my crew for turning this thing around and getting us to the starting line on time. Everybody did an awesome job today. We’re on the cusp, a win is so close, and hopefully, we can get it done in Norwalk.”
So far in 2023, DeJoria has already reached two final rounds and three semifinal appearances in the first eight races. The DC Motorsports team, which has had one of the best-performing cars all season, started race day at Bristol Dragway ranked sixth in the Funny Car point standings. Their strong Thunder Valley Nationals outing moved them up to fifth and within one round win of the No. 4 ranked driver.
DeJoria and the Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team will return to competition at the NHRA Norwalk Nationals, June 23 – 25.