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DeJoria, team revel in first victory

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Just a few weeks after she became the first female Funny Car driver to drop below the four-second barrier with her 3.997-second run in qualifying at Pomona, Alexis DeJoria picked up her first Funny Car Wally with a win at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, site of the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. While she was busy at the bottom end of the track, her team was busy at the top end celebrating – “mosh pit” style.

“It was pretty awesome. I got to see it on tape,” said DeJoria of the Kalitta Motorsports victory celebration. “I record every race, so of course I come home and I basically kind of like I'm doing my homework when I watch the races. But I got to see the mosh pit, and it was pretty amazing that my husband and my crew chiefs both kind of did a back shimmy and got themselves out of the mosh pit and unscathed. So it was pretty fun.”

DeJoria’s husband is bike builder Jesse James, who has been coming along for the ride and helping out in the pits whenever and however he can. “Whatever he's told to do basically,” she said of James’ tasks. “Whatever the guys need him to do. Whether it's welding on the steering wheel or draining the oil from the chassis, refueling the tanks, cleaning parts, whatever. He was helping out our car chief this last race in Phoenix because he had hurt his ankle from the race prior, so anything and everything.”

“He's got a common respect for the guys and they like having him there, because he's also an extra set of hands on the car when we need it and he knows what he's doing,” continued DeJoria. “So it's really nice to have that support from my husband. When he's done working on the car, he'll go up to the ropes and sign some autographs and stuff. But he doesn't want to steal my thunder. He's like I'm not here for me. It's all about you. So he's been really cute about it. But it's nice to have that. Of course, my father comes out to the race track and the fans love having him out there as well.

DeJoria’s father, shampoo and tequila tycoon John Paul DeJoria, is the source of his daughter’s work ethic. “He worked really hard to get to where he is today,” she said of her father. “He's a very successful businessman and philanthropist and a wonderful father. He taught us from the very beginning to fight for what you believe in stay focused and try to find something that you're passionate about. If you're passionate about something and you can make it work and make it your profession, you'll be very successful.”

“(My father’s) done Cannonball style races all over the world, and done really well and had amazing stories when he would come home from them,” she continued. “But I've always kind of been the sports enthusiast. I played all sports in school and snowboard, riding dirt bikes and whatever. But, yeah, I mean, he was pretty proud though when he saw just how determined I was and when he saw, hey, you know what, she can do this. And she's going to be good at it.”

Pro qualifying for the 45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA GatorNationals at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida gets underway Friday, March 14th at noon and 2:15 p.m. ET, with final rounds on Saturday, March 15th at noon and 2:15 p.m. ET. Eliminations begin Sunday, March 16th at 11 a.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.

Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.

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