It had been six long years since Alexis DeJoria had last visited Route 66 Raceway. Returning for the first time since 2017, she was looking forward to celebrating her milestone 200th Funny Car event at the historic Joliet, Ill. facility, but after struggling during qualifying, and experiencing a starting line mishap in the opening round of eliminations, it was a weekend DeJoria and the DC Motorsports team would rather soon forget.
The team’s weekend woes began during qualifying when they struggled to make a full pull down the Route 66 Raceway track. By the time they had staged for the third and final session on Saturday evening, DeJoria found herself sitting on the bump spot in 16th. Knowing 18 cars were vying for a spot in the 16-car field, DeJoria pedaled her machine several times after going up in smoke early to make it through the lights with her quickest pass of the weekend. She eventually settled into the No. 15 starting position, an uncharacteristic qualifying performance for a team that has started second three times in 2023.
Chicago outing aside, DeJoria has enjoyed a hot start to the season which has included a runner-up finish, two semifinal appearances, and a Mission #2Fast2Tasty win, so while her Sunday starting position wasn’t ideal, the six-time national event winner wasn’t deterred, knowing her team would be able to turn it around and give her a competitive car to go up against No. 2 qualifier Cruz Pedregon on Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, the team’s weekend struggles carried into race day when a body mount malfunction on the starting line caused the staging bulb to flicker but never actually turn on while DeJoria was staging the car, resulting in the DC Motorsports team timing out.
“We did not have a good showing this weekend,” explained DeJoria, who started the weekend ranked second in the Funny Car point standings. “To go from our last race in Charlotte being runner-up heroes to coming out here and having a zero show, it’s disappointing. We struggled during qualifying; got our Bandero Supra in the show on the last run by pedaling it. But, I wasn’t worried because we always turn it around on race day. That’s not how we lost today, we beat ourselves before we even left the starting line and it’s unfortunate. A part came off the front lip of the body, and a spring and a pin fell off after we completed the burnout. So, the car was staged by the body instead of the tire, and it caught the beams.
“When I was pre-staged, I thought maybe I just rolled in too much on the first one but by the time I rolled in for the second stage bulb and it kept flickering, I knew there was definitely a body issue. We had this happen in Atlanta a few years back. It’s unfortunate, but we’re going to take our car back home and go through it with a fine-tooth comb. I’m not happy it happened, but I’m glad it happened early on in the season and not when it really matters. We’ll fix it, we’ll get it ready, and we’ll be gunning for them in Epping.
No. 4 ranked DeJoria and the Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team compete next at the NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, N.H., June 2 – 4.