Joliet, IL (July 1, 2012)— After what seemed like a never-ending weather delay, the first round of Funny Car eliminations at the 15th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, IL was able to get underway. Team Patron, the number eight qualifier, pulled up to the line just minutes shy of 4PM ready to square off against NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals champion, Ron Capps. Capps, who has been riding a winning streak lately with final round appearances in the past five events, had beat driver Alexis “La Patrona” DeJoria in the final round in Bristol, TN just two weeks prior.
In what was the ultimate rematch, DeJoria, the second quickest Funny Car rookie ever, pulled side-by-side to Capps rearing to go! The Tequila Patron Toyota Camry was on a good run initially, but just before crossing the finish line, the car smoked the tires and the black-and-green machine was pulled hard near the center line. Thankfully, DeJoria was able to regain control of the car and save the race. Her 4.320-second at 226.70 was enough to advance her to the second round. “It was fun to race Ron again, and even better to get the round win,” said the popular driver.
DeJoria faced number one qualifier and fifteen-time world champion John Force in round two. The two fan-favorites had met three times previously this season. Force had two wins to her one. DeJoria was hungry for the win and ready to even the score! The veteran smokes the tires and rookie DeJoria has a good light and makes a clean, straight pass and zips across the finish line with a 4.168 elapsed time. Team Patron was on their way to another semifinal round appearance, a huge accomplishment for the rookie group led by ESPY-nominated crew chief Del Worsham, given the fact that they’ve won six rounds in the last two races, after only winning one round all season long. “I think it’s safe to say that our ‘first round loss’ curse has officially been broken,” said DeJoria, who had been battling a terrible cold all weekend long.
La Patrona was ready to take on her fellow Rookie of the Year contender Courtney Force in their first-ever semifinal pairing. Both women ran well, but DeJoria’s 4.191-sec at 306.88-mph run wasn’t fast enough for Force’s 4.123-sec at 305.49-mph pass, ending Team Patron’s day. When asked about the epic ‘rookie versus rookie’ matchup, DeJoria said “We always seem to step it up when we face each other, especially on reaction times. I went in a bit deep to cut a good light. The crew set me up with a great car, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to pull it off.”
“Even though we didn’t advance to the finals, I’m still pleased with how well we did this weekend. I came into Chicago with a terrible head cold, and this crazy weather definitely hasn’t helped out at all. I’ve been trying to give it 110-percent all weekend long, and so has the team. The turnarounds were quick, everyone was on their toes, and I’m just so proud of how hard our team worked. We got to qualify really well with our 4.07 on Friday night, which set the tone for the whole weekend, giving us the momentum we’ve had through these last couple of races. I’m really excited that we get to race again in a few days. We’ve been on such a role lately; I can’t wait to see how we do next weekend!”
Alexis DeJoria and the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car team compete next at 6th Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. They are currently in eleventh place, moving up two spots from their previous position of thirteenth.
About Alexis DeJoria
Alexis DeJoria, daughter of the famed John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and proud owner of Tequila Patr?n, is a professional NHRA race car driver, competing in the Nitro Funny Car class on the Kalitta Motorsports team. She is their second Nitro Funny Car driver and fourth member of the team. Alexis drives a Tequila Patron-sponsored 2012 Toyota Camry.
Alexis had a successful career in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category where she co-owned and operated her team, and was one of the few females ever to do so. She left the TAFC category holding the title of Top Female Top Alcohol Funny Car Racer and 2011 NHRA Northwest Nationals TAFC event champion. She is the 2nd woman ever to win a TAFC race. She is currently the female world record holder for the fastest and quickest TAFC speeds. Alexis is also well-known for her infamous 2009 Englishtown, NJ crash.
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) Full Throttle 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.