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

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

Leave a comment

Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”