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Nitro Shots: Halfway to a Championship

At the end of the regular season, a number of teams breathed a new air of life. A points reset wiped out large deficits between those on the lower half of the top 10 and the points leaders. Even those in 10th place had a shot, only 110 points behind the leader. Now it’s the midway point, three races in the books on a six-race Countdown.

Three of the drivers who were leading at the start of the Countdown are still leading, the lone exception being a flip flop of Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle, however, things are considerably closer across the board. Antron Brown still leads Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, but the lead was 167 points before the Countdown started. Now it’s 77. Brown has won two of the three Countdown races, Kalitta the other. Kalitta was runner up to Brown in Charlotte, and made it one round further than Brown in St. Louis.

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Tommy Johnson, Jr. has gotten on a hot streak at just the right time to mount a championship challenge. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

Ron Capps still leads in Funny Car, but instead of holding 215 markers over Courtney Force as he did in the regular season, he now has a cushion of just 24 over teammate Tommy Johnson, Jr. Johnson is playing that role of the spoiler who got hot just at the right time. He was way back in eighth at the end of the regular season but has been runner up twice and won, over Capps, in the most recent outing.

Everyone knows the KB Racing tandem of Jason Line and Greg Anderson were in a whole different time zone from the rest of the class during the regular season, with third team car Bo Butner providing a nice buffer to the rest of the field in third. Line was over 700 points ahead of the nearest driver who didn’t have the same boss he did. Now Line has just 45 points over Anderson, and perhaps more troubling to the two, Butner has lost a spot and non-team driver Vincent Nobile has found his way to third, just 83 off the lead.

Eddie Krawiec was the regular season leader by 42 over teammate Hines, but more importantly, Angelle Sampey was in third, a distant 239 points behind. Now Hines leads Krawiec by 38, but Sampey is just 52 back with Chip Ellis and Jerry Savoie right behind her. Anything can still happen in any one of these classes with half the Countdown still to go.

What’s News?

* Alexis DeJoria Racing will partner with Baylor Health and Nevada Health Care Systems to once again offer the Free Mammograms for the Fans program at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex and the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this month. This is the fourth year for the program (it was expanded last year to include the Texas event) and nearly 350 free mammograms have been provided during this time.

Female fans over the age of 40 are invited to stop by the mobile mammography unit at the track to receive a free mammogram, regardless of health insurance coverage.

“The last three years with this program have been incredible,” said DeJoria. “Alexis DeJoria Racing is committed to providing free mammograms as long as we are out on the race track. The outpouring of support for this program is astounding.”

Driver Profile: Alexis DeJoria

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Category: Funny Car
Hometown: Venice, California
Date of birth: Sept. 24, 1977
2016 car: Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry
Crew chief: Tommy DeLago
Team Owner: Connie Kalitta

Career Highlights:
Career wins/runner-up finishes: 4/3
Best points finish: 7th in 2014
Career best ET: 3.875, Topeka, 2016
Career best speed: 332.18, Topeka, 2016

2014 – Scored three wins, her first in a pro category; three times No. 1 qualifier; was first female Funny Car driver to post a three second run.

2012 – Reached first career final round at Bristol.

2011 – Made professional debut and raced at four national events.

Follow Alexis: @AlexisDejoria, @ADRnhra on Twitter, Alexis DeJoria on Facebook, @alexisdejoria on Instagram

Some things most people don’t know about Alexis: Alexis DeJoria worked her way up through the ranks, competing in NHRA Super Gas in a 1963 Corvette roadster and in NHRA Super Comp in a dragster. She also drove an NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car for five seasons. Alexis won in all of those classes before moving up to Funny Car. Her father, John Paul DeJoria, who is also one of her biggest fans, is a successful businessman who owns Paul Mitchell Hair Care Products, Patron Tequila, and John Paul Pet Products. Many people are also familiar with her husband, Jess James, who is a TV personality and the owner of West Coast Choppers.

Hey Y’all, Watch This!

Tommy Johnson, Jr., the most recent winner in Funny Car and a driver making a challenge for his first championship, makes his pitch for why you need to experience NHRA drag racing in person.

Word of the Week: Shift light

Pro Stock cars and motorcycles feature a light on the dashboard that lets a driver/rider know when it is necessary to shift. You can see this light in the video below while Dave River is making a pass on the track. Watch the whole video. It’s just neat to see how an entire run, from burnout to parachutes, works from the driver’s point of view. As an added bonus, you get to see ride back to the pits and watch the team tear the car down too.

NHRA on TV:

ProgramDate/TimeChannel
DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals
QualifyingFriday, March 31, 6:30 PM ETFS1
QualifyingSaturday, April 1, 7:00 PM ETFS1
EliminationsSunday, April 2, 6:00 PM ETFS1 (LIVE)

About Toni Montgomery

Toni Montgomery
A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni freelances with both writing and web design in North Carolina.

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