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Alexis DeJoria’s Resurgence in Phoenix Thrills Sellout Crowds at NHRA Arizona Nationals

Tom Macht photo

In an impressive display of resilience, Alexis DeJoria powered her Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra Funny Car to a runner-up finish from the No. 15 qualifying position this weekend at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Motorsports Park. Among a stacked Funny Car field featuring some of the most talented drivers on the planet, DeJoria defeated Bob Tasca III, Bobby Bode, and Blake Alexander before ceding the event victory to Austin Prock in the final round.

“What a way to turn it around,” said DeJoria. “This is a complete ‘rags to riches’ event for us. We had a hard time qualifying, had a hard time getting it down the race track. To tell you that I thought we were going to make it to the finals today, was not very likely. But anything can happen if you just stay focused and have faith, and I have the utmost faith in my team. I know what we’re capable of; we’ve done it before. It was a great way to come back from not being able to get down the race track.”

After a frustrating outing at the previous event in Pomona, California, where she did not qualify, DeJoria was eager for redemption. As her 12,000-horsepower Funny Car roared to life for the first qualifying pass on Friday evening, tire shake forced her to shut off early. Her second qualifying attempt on Saturday showed marginal improvement but was not enough to get into the show.

Facing the possibility of a second consecutive DNQ in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, the Bandero Premium Tequila team led by crew chief Del Worsham put everything they had into the final qualifying pass of the event.

With motivation from a sellout crowd full of NHRA drag racing fans cheering them on, Worsham tuned the Bandero Supra to a run of 4.134 seconds at 301.74 MPH to bump onto the ladder and into the No. 15 spot.

DeJoria carried that momentum with her into race day as she staged up against No. 2 qualifier Tasca to open eliminations. Although Tasca bested DeJoria when they faced each other earlier this season in Gainesville, DeJoria improved upon her qualifying time with a run of 4.108 at 286.44 to take the win.

Making improvements throughout the day in front of yet another sellout crowd, DeJoria turned on the win light against Bode thanks to a stout pass of 4.043 at 309.20, her best E.T. of the weekend. In the semifinals, she knocked off Blake Alexander with a lap of 4.060 at 313.44.

All eyes were on DeJoria and Prock as they lined up against each other for the first time in Funny Car competition. While it was Prock who reached the stripe first, DeJoria held her own with a consistent pass of 4.049 at 316.90.

“We moved some things around, Del went through the car because it was just being finicky, and it wasn’t listening to anything we were trying to do to it,” added DeJoria. “But, he figured it out, the guys got it all together and we got qualified in the fifteenth spot. You’ve just got to qualify; you’ve got to get in it to have a shot to win it, and that’s exactly what we did. We got to the finals, leaving here in the eighth position, heading to Las Vegas for the Four-Wide Nationals. That’s another great track where we’ve had success. I just have to say how proud I am of my team, my crew chief Del Worsham, and assistant crew chief Matt Bynum for keeping it together. It’s been really frustrating for all of us. We’re better than what we’ve shown the last few races and this is a testament to how good we really are. We’ve got our car back.”

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DeJoria’s performance improved her points position in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series significantly and she will head to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 12 – 14, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in eighth place.

This story was originally published on April 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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