With temperatures threatening to break into the nineties,’ it’s looking like a hot weekend at the 15th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, IL for the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrόn Toyota Camry Funny Car team.
Coming off of their two best race weekends to date, Team Patrόn travels to Chicago feeling confident and looking to keep the momentum going strong. Prior to this weekend’s race, the black-and-green team made their first-ever Final round appearance at the Thunder Valley Nationals, a huge accomplishment for the young team. At the May Toyota Supernationals in Englishtown, Team Patrόn broke into the 4.0-seconds elapsed time bracket for the first time. Their 4.040-second pass during Friday night’s qualifying session landed team driver Alexis “La Patrόna” DeJoria the right to claim the title of the second quickest rookie ever in the Nitro Funny Car class.
“Our car is running well and it’s consistent. We’re moving in the right direction. I’m really proud of how well our team has performed these past few weeks,” said DeJoria, a top Rookie of the Year contender. “Del [Worsham, the team’s crew chief] has done really well in Chicago in the past- he knows how to win,” she said, speaking of Worsham’s 2011 Route 66 Nationals Top Fuel win- one of four victories at that track for her award-winning crew chief during his successful Top Fuel career.
“I’ve raced in Chicago in the past with my Alcohol [Funny] car. It’s a great facility, and it’ll be nice to go back to a familiar race track in my Nitro car. Before we head out there, I’m going to spend some time in the city with my family seeing the sites and doing some press. Chicago is an awesome town and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my daughter.”
Jim Oberhofer, Vice President of Kalitta Motorsports, shares DeJoria’s view of the Midwestern tour stop. “Chicago is a nice track and the fans are always great. Historically, we [Kalitta Motorsports] have had a lot of success there. Of course, things are a little trickier these days now that this race falls during the summer, and both Friday and Saturday are evening qualifying sessions, but we know our car is good,” Oberhofer added, “With all four qualifying runs taking place at night, we’re not going to have much information for race day, but our strategy going into this weekend is to take advantage of both night sessions, run hard, and position ourselves in the ladder as best we can. That way, come race day, we’re not stuck going up against someone that’s very, very competitive.”
“This race is a funny thing, because you could show up on Sunday in the number sixteen spot and race the guy in the number one qualifying spot, and you’re both pretty much on equal footing because neither of you have any information. When you’re doing laps in the evening all weekend long, you really aren’t sure of what to expect come race day when you’re starting off at 11AM. The sun is more intense, the track gets hotter, the rubber gets slicker- it’s a whole different animal. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a lot of upsets this weekend.”
Alexis DeJoria and the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrόn Toyota Camry Funny Car team are currently ranked 13th and are looking to add some more points this weekend at the 15th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, IL. Funny Car qualifying begins at 5PM on Friday.