Photo courtesy Kalitta Motorsports

Alexis DeJoria to retire from NHRA racing at end of season

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) Alexis DeJoria, the first woman to break the 4-second barrier in a Funny Car, will retire from NHRA competition at the end of the season to spend more time with her family.

DeJoria announced her retirement Monday, calling it “one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.”

She added that her “reasoning behind this decision is simple: It’s time for me to switch my focus towards my family.”

The 40-year-old DeJoria is ranked 11th in the Mello Yello Funny Car standings while driving for Kalitta Motorsports. She has five career wins, including a victory in August at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.

DeJoria is the daughter of billionaire entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, a co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair care products and The Patron Spirits Co. Alexis DeJoria married TV personality and renowned motorcycle fabricator Jesse James in 2013. She has a teenage daughter, Isabella, from a previous relationship.

DeJoria began her NHRA career in 2005, moving up the ranks in Super Gas, Super Comp and Top Alcohol Funny Car categories before making her professional debut in September 2011.

In her six-year pro career, DeJoria became the first woman to compete in 100 Funny Car events.

“I’ve accomplished great things throughout my NHRA career,” she said. “Working with Kalitta Motorsports and driving for Connie Kalitta has been an absolute honor. The man is a legend. He’s been the best boss I could have ever hoped for as a professional nitro Funny Car pilot.”

DeJoria and her team have three races remaining in 2017, beginning at the Texas FallNationals this weekend.

More AP auto racing: http://www.racing.ap.org

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.