For the first time since 2016, nitro Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria will be starting an NHRA national event from the No. 1 qualifying position.

That became a reality when she clocked a 3.907-second elapsed time at 326.79 mph in the final qualifying session Saturday.

“This is the first No. 1 qualifier for DC Motorsports since Del Worsham and I began in 2020 and I’m so happy that it came at the same track where I went to my first Funny Car final with Del (Worsham) as my crew chief in 2012,” DeJoria said. “Everything’s going to come together and we’re going to break through for a win very soon. I’d love for it to come at my favorite track here in Bristol.”

This is DeJoria’s 170th career NHRA national event in the nitro Funny Car class and her fifth career No. 1 qualifying honor. This season DeJoria has become a championship contender. She’s ninth in the points standings with one runner-up finish in Denver and five runs to the semifinals.

DeJoria, who pilots the Bandero Toyota Camry, faces Paul Lee in the first round Sunday.

“This track has a lot of very good memories for me,” DeJoria said. “To come back here with our own team and get a No. 1 qualifier at this track is huge. Honestly, we have had so many No. 2s, and I’m not complaining but this alone is so gratifying. It kind of feels like a win in its own right. It is a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. It has been rough the last couple of races. I’m not going to lie - I have been kind of depressed. We have three races left and we haven’t won a race yet. It’s crunch time and we have to do it now.”

The national event in Bristol didn’t take place in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions and DeJoria is thrilled to be back.

“It’s absolutely beautiful here and the people are amazing,” DeJoria said. “The acoustics when these cars run down the track is like monsters. It is awesome. I didn’t know exactly what my run was going to be (in Q3). It had a couple of hiccups down the track, but I stayed in and drove through it and managed to get down there. I didn’t think it was going to be a 3.90, but man I’m so glad. I didn’t think it was going to stick because we never do. It’s great to finally do this.”

Being atop the qualifying ladder is something DeJoria was embracing in the moment, but she knew it was going to be short-lived.

“It feels good right now (to be No. 1), but (Sunday) is a new day,” she said. “It is definitely a confidence booster going into Sunday. Hopefully we can build on what we did tonight and be consistent and get some round wins. We just need to take things one at a time. We want to finish out the year with a win.”