OUSTON, Texas (April 28, 2013)— For Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patron Toyota Camry, her first race in the Lone Star state as a Texas resident proved to be a successful one. The Austin based Funny Car pilot raced her way to the semi-finals this weekend at the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, located just outside of Houston, and managed to break back into the ‘Top Ten’ of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship point standings.
After Saturday’s two nitro qualifying sessions were cancelled due to persistent rain, DeJoria went into the first round of eliminations on Sunday morning qualified in the No. 12 spot with her 4.217-second run from Q2, facing fellow female competitor Courtney Force. The two had met for the first time in competition at this very race last year, with Force coming out as the round winner of the 2012 event. The tables would turn this year as DeJoria would defeat Force, the No. 2 qualifier and only other female Funny Car driver, in the round one matchup after an exciting ‘pedalfest’ run. After hearing car after car have trouble getting down the 1,000-foot stretch during the first round of Top Fuel eliminations, DeJoria, aka ‘La Patrona,’ she knew that she could be up for a rough ride.
“My goal was to get my Toyota Camry to the finish line as best as I could. I noticed a lot of drivers had a tough time getting down there. I prepared myself mentally, cut an excellent light [.046-sec] and luckily, crossed the stripe first. It’s a friendly rivalry between the two of us, but we’re both super competitive and once you’re on the line all bets are off- I was in it to win it,” she said of the high-profile rematch.
Round two of eliminations found Team Patrón again in the right lane facing the current NHRA Mello Yello world champion, ‘Fast Jack’ Beckman. In what was yet another ‘pedalfest,’ where driving skills would reign supreme, DeJoria was able to pilot the black-and-green Patron beast past Beckman and on to victory, with her 4.484-sec run versus the veteran’s 4.65 e.t. “I feel like I’ve finally got a handle on pedaling. All of those times having to pedal paid off, and I’ve figured out the right way to pedal our car with our setup.”
With the quick turnaround time between rounds to accommodate ESPN2’s live race coverage, the Patron team found themselves back on the line a short time later facing Cruz Pedregon in the semi-finals. In the ‘Toyota versus Toyota’ matchup, DeJoria was quick off the line with a better reaction time, but Pedregon was able to take the win after a riveting side-by-side race with his 4.243 over her 4.332. “This felt like a rematch of our Vegas race earlier this month. We found ourselves facing each other in the semis again. He had lane choice and we swapped lanes right before the run, which put us in the left lane for the first time today. I thought I had him there but he ended up passing me.”
Despite not making it all the way to the final round, Team Patron was able to pick up valuable points, moving them from the No. 11 spot, back into ninth where they currently sit with 295 points. “I’m proud of my team. We’re going rounds and gaining points with every round, and that’s what’s important right now. I’m looking forward to getting right back out there in a few days in Atlanta.”
The Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car team races next at the 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga., May 3-5.
About Alexis DeJoria
Alexis DeJoria, daughter of the famed John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and proud owner of Tequila Patron, is a professional NHRA race car driver, competing in the nitro Funny Car class on the Kalitta Motorsports team. Alexis drives a Tequila Patr?n-sponsored 2013 Toyota Camry. Alexis, who had all the opportunity in the world to pursue any type of career, felt strongly about following her passion, and her need for adrenaline drove her to pursue the unlikely profession of auto-racing. The determination to ‘blaze her own trail’ continues to drive her and push her to higher levels in male dominated sport of drag racing.
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.