Photo courtesy Alexis DeJoria

Alexis DeJoria returning to NHRA, will drive for, run own team in 2020

Leave a comment

Following a two-year hiatus from drag racing, Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria will return to the sport full-time in 2020.

DeJoria last competed in the 2017 season before announcing she was retiring from the sport to spend more time with her family — although she did leave open the possibility of returning one day. Now it’s apparently the right time for her return.

I honestly knew deep down when I made the announcement to retire at the end of the 2017 NHRA season that it was going to be sort of an open-ended retirement,” DeJoria said in a media release. I’m beyond excited to get back out there. I’ve been blessed spending time with my family these past two years off. This was a decision I made with their support, and we are all looking forward to my return to the driver’s seat.”

DeJoria’s first race will be the 2020 season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. While a primary sponsor for her Funny Car will be revealed in the near future, DeJoria did announce that Nicky Bonifante and former world championship driver Del Worsham will serve as co-crew chiefs for her return to the sport.

While DeJoria, Bonifante and Worsham have a long history with Kalitta Motorsports, DeJoria’s new operation will be an independent team, according to the release. It was Worsham’s car that DeJoria first obtained her Funny Car license in 2010, and Worsham then became her crew chief during her rookie season before he returned to driving and won the 2015 Funny Car championship before departing to re-start his family-based team. Worsham returned to Kalitta Motorsports this season.

Bonifante, meanwhile, worked on DeJoria’s car for several years during her tenure at Kalitta Motorsports, eventually being promoted to chief tuner for the 2017 season.

Bonifante and Worsham are currently co-crew chiefs for Shawn Langdon’s Funny Car at Kalitta Motorsports, but are expected to leave those roles upon the conclusion of the current season to join DeJoria’s operation.

I now have this incredible opportunity to build a team with two of the people who were by my side when I started my nitro Funny Car career,” said DeJoria, whose ultimate goal is to become the first female Funny Car world champion. Del is my mentor and the person whose car I licensed with in the first place, and Nicky was one of the first people at Kalitta who I talked to when I made the transition from Top Alcohol Funny Car to nitro Funny Car.

“Del and Nicky, they’re the ‘dream team’ for me, and I’m eager to embark on this new adventure with them.”

A resident of Austin, Texas, DeJoria has earned five NHRA national events, including the prestigious 2014 U.S. Nationals, before stepping away from her 11,000 horsepower Funny Car.

Fellow Funny Car competitor Tommy Johnson Jr. was among several individuals who treated their support for DeJoria’s return:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

GETTY IMAGES
GETTY Images
Leave a comment

Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500