MADISON, Ill. (St. Louis) – In her best outing since returning this year to the NHRA pro tour, Alexis DeJoria qualified the ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota Camry in the No. 2 position and raced into the Funny Car semifinals before a massive supercharger explosion changed the momentum of Sunday’s 23rd Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway.
In the second round, as DeJoria neared the finish line at more than 320 miles per hour and prepared to deploy the parachutes after beating former world champion J.R. Todd, a cylinder misfired in the 11,000 horsepower engine. That failure started a chain reaction that led to a massive supercharger explosion that blew the body apart.
Although the explosion was spectacular, DeJoria was able to maintain her composure and get the car under control before it hit the retaining wall or anything else.
Despite the damage, crew chiefs Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante supervised a complete rebuild of the car and engine that enabled DeJoria to make the semifinal call to face former world champion Matt Hagan just 35 minutes later.
Unfortunately, there was no time to warm the engine and check all the systems and when DeJoria hit the throttle, she felt the car shake and had no choice but to abort the run as Hagan advanced in 3.938 seconds.
“It was definitely a crazy day,” said the five-time pro tour winner of an afternoon during which Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett and Ron Capps also had to deal with major failures. “Leah, Ron Capps, myself. It banged me up a little, but I think I’m all right. It was incredibly important (to get back in the car after the incident). I want to thank everyone who helped us (put the car back together). I think we had four teams that jumped in to help. We really are family out here.”
By reaching the semifinals, DeJoria solidified her hold on the No. 8 position in points with just three races remaining in a 2020 season reduced to 11 events by the COVID-19 pandemic. She will lead Paul Lee by three racing rounds when qualifying begins Oct. 17 in the 35th annual AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, the track on which DeJoria made her professional Funny Car debut in 2011.