With the NHRA Brainerd Nationals marking the second-to-last event before the Countdown to the Championship standings are set, 2017 Brainerd Funny Car event champ Alexis DeJoria was looking to make a move in the points after steadily occupying the No. 8 position for the last five events.
DeJoria qualified in the top half of the field for Sunday’s elimination show at Brainerd International Raceway and drew Blake Alexander as her first-round competitor. She took the Bandero Premium Tequila GR Supra to the stripe in 3.967 seconds to get the win light over a tire-smoking Alexander, and by earning the round win, DeJoria moved ahead of Cruz Pedregon in the standings up to seventh.
In round two, DeJoria went head-to-head with Matt Hagan, and the two drivers engaged in a nail-biter of a pedalfest to battle for the round win. DeJoria was masterful on the throttle, using her pedaling skills to score the victory and earn a bid to the semifinals. In her fourth semifinal appearance of the season, DeJoria faced reigning world champion, Ron Capps. Eager to advance to her first final of the year, DeJoria was amped up to race Capps but ended up standing on the gas too early and activating the red light.
“This race has been somewhat of a struggle, starting with qualifying,” said DeJoria, a six-time Funny Car winner, as she recounted her weekend. “We had one really good run which put us in the middle of the pack. We had Blake Alexander first round; definitely a good opponent, we were about equal as far as how our teams performed during qualifying, so it was anybody’s game. Second round, we were up against Matt Hagan and we had lane choice, but both lanes were iffy. People were struggling to make it down both lanes, and neither Matt nor I made it down, so it was a pedalfest, and luckily, we came out on top. I definitely did my best pedal job in a long time, and I’m proud of that.
“My next opponent was Ron Capps; very good car, very good driver. Two Toyotas in the semis and one of us was going to the finals, and I wanted it to be us, but I just tried a little too hard. It was my fourth red light of the season. Something isn’t right and I definitely need to work on that. I’m just out here trying really hard, but when you have red lights, you give it up and you don’t give your team a chance. I’d hate to get beat on a holeshot but I definitely don’t want any more red lights, so I’m going to shake it off and get ready for Indy.”
By advancing to the semis, DeJoria successfully narrowed the points margin separating her from No. 6 ranked J.R. Todd to 14 points – less than one round win – and is in prime position to swap spots with her Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate at the upcoming U.S. Nationals, an event which features a unique points-and-a-half format.
“We really needed to go rounds this weekend, and we did that,” said DeJoria, the 2014 U.S. Nationals Funny Car event champ. “We got some really good points going to the semis, moved up a spot to seventh, so that’s the silver lining here at this race. We’ll regroup and get ready for Indy.”
Qualified: No. 8 (3.916 E.T. at 315.78 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.967 E.T. at 299.80 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 4.241 E.T. at 295.21 MPH
E2: 5.712 E.T. at 229.31 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 6.187 E.T. at 259.81 MPH
E3: Foul (red light) defeated by Ron Capps 3.955 E.T. at 329.99 MPH
NHRA Camping World Series Funny Car Point Standings (unofficial):
|4||Bob Tasca III||1043|
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