Concussion to keep Alexis DeJoria out of NHRA Finals

(Photo: Alexis DeJoria Racing)
WILL LESTER/INLAND VALLEY DAILY BULLETIN

Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. The Funny Car driver was diagnosed with a concussion following a crash during qualifying at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.

The Team Patron Toyota Camry will still compete this weekend with Jeff Arend behind the wheel for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series finale.

During the third round of qualifying in Las Vegas, mechanical issues sent DeJoria’s car careening across the track and into the wall following the finishing line. The impact caused DeJoria’s head to hit the roll cage, says the team, but she was able to exit the car under her own power.

DeJoria did not feel any pain until later that evening, and she woke up race day with concussion-like symptoms. After consulting with her crew chiefs, DeJoria and the team decided not to compete in Sunday’s final eliminations in Las Vegas, and instead shift their focus onto the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

However, medical professionals at the Texas Sport and Family Medicine near DeJoria’s home in Austin, Texas, have since diagnosed DeJoria with a concussion, and her physicians ruled her out of the final event of the 2016 season. Additionally, the physicians ordered DeJoria to abstain from flying, and so she will not be physically present at this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals.

“I underwent a series of cognitive tests and the doctors diagnosed me with a full-blown concussion that required me to step away from the seat for the time being,” explained DeJoria.

“It takes two weeks for these symptoms to subside and even then, because of the trauma from the concussion, it would be unsafe for me to race this weekend.”

DeJoria also had to miss two races earlier this year due to a fractured pelvis. However, there have also been several highlights to DeJoria’s season, with a win at the 2016 DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals back in April.

“A lot has happened this year. We started off strong with a win and a No. 1 qualifier right after. It’s been a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, with the downs being pretty severe – a concussion in Denver, a pelvic fracture in Sonoma and then another concussion in Vegas. It’s been a very trying year for our team. I had a discussion with my father and Connie Kalitta and we all agreed that we thought it would be really wonderful for my team to end on a positive note, and finish the year out. We decided to have someone fill the seat and take our beautiful Patrón Camry down the track at the World Finals.”

Jeff Arend, having been selected to fill the seat, drove the Kalitta Motorsports DHL Funny Car during DeJoria’s rookie season and worked alongside Del Worsham to assist DeJoria in getting her Funny Car license in 2011.

“I’m extremely honored and excited to drive the Patrón Toyota Camry in Pomona,” said Arend. “I look forward to representing Alexis and Patrón, and hopefully put this car in the Winners Circle in front of my family and friends. Thank you to Alexis, John Paul [DeJoria] and Kalitta Motorsports for this opportunity.”

DeJoria hopes to be rested up and ready to go again in time for next season, which kicks off from Pomona on Feb. 12, 2017.

“It’s going to be hard for me not to be there [this weekend] but I’m thinking long term. I need to get myself healthy and focus on coming back strong next year.”