After qualifying No. 2 at the three preceding events on Phoenix, Pomona, and Las Vegas, it should be no surprise that Alexis DeJoria’s Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota sits No. 1 in the Funny Car field after Friday’s two qualifying sessions at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte,
The team, led by veterans Del Worsham and Nick Boninfante Jr., has given DeJoria her best start to a season in nearly a decade with three semifinal finishes in four events, a third-place ranking, and a huge win at the inaugural Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Phoenix.
Of 24 runs down the track, the GR Supra has made it to the finish-line stripe under power 16 times, including in eight of 10 elimination rounds and the car boasts the quickest average e.t. on Sundays.
DeJoria hasn’t reached the Camping World Drag Racing Series winner’s circle since the 2021 Bristol event and has not won a four-wide race in 11 tries. She’s reached the final quad three times, but a third-place finish and a pair of fourth-place finishes is all she has to show for the effort.
Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, she won her opening quad and should have advanced to the final round but lost the second-place transfer spot to John Force on a painful holeshot.
“I hope we're gonna do better than Vegas because that was definitely our race to lose,” she said. “We had a better car, but this is a new race and a new four-wide.
"I have yet to win a four-wide., so it's exciting to be No. 1 right now. Hopefully it stays and we go some rounds on Sunday and make it to the winner's circle, but I can't think that far ahead.”
The 2022 season was a bit of a struggle for the team, which had a sub-.500 round record of 20-22 and reached just one final, at the fall event at zMAX Dragway, where she was turned away by Ron Capps.
“We've been working towards our current success,” she said. “We've been through hell and back. I look around at the guys’ faces now and everybody's a little bit more upbeat now. I just kept telling them last year, ‘Guys, we're building for next year. Just hold on. It's going to be worth it.’ And it's definitely paid off, so I'm glad we were somewhat patient.
“We're really excited about how we're running. This is the best start to our season. Our car is just so consistent in the last few races. It's just been getting down the track when a lot of cars haven't been getting down the track and getting down there quickly, so it's just pretty much up to me now. I've got to do my part, make it down there, get off the starting line with a decent [reaction] time, and not get too far ahead in the game and just stay focused and stay in my seat."
DeJoria’s early success has her team in third place, behind only Matt Hagan and Ron Capps, and her highest points ranking since 2014, when she won her first race in the class in Phoenix.
“It's nice to finish off [Friday] with a No. 1 and get those three points,” she said.. “Points are key. Obviously, we want to get as many points as we can, but no matter what, we really want to win this race. I want to win this race. It's time. It's past time. We need to win this race.”