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Strong Weekend for Chicago’s Zizzo Ends in Disappointing .02 Second Loss to Palmer


zizzoJOLIET, Ill.—Drag racing is a fickle mistress. For an example of this fact, look no further than TJ Zizzo’s weekend. Saturday in Q3, the Chicago native raced the Rust-Oleum Rocket down the track at Route 66 Raceway in 3.808 seconds. The time was good enough to be the quickest of the round in the Top Fuel class.

TJ Zizzo profile

TJ Zizzo

Sunday was a different day at the JEGS NHRA Route 66 Nationals. Facing drag racing veteran Scott Palmer in E1 from the 5th position, Zizzo ran a thou better than Saturday, laying down a 3.807-second lap at 322.04 mph. Unfortunately for TJ, Scott raced his rail to the stripe .02 seconds quicker with a 3.781 at 322.58 mph.

“So disappointing,” said a dejected Zizzo after the E1 loss. “I think when we’re on the opposite side of the ladder, we go for the throat in the first round. But when we’re on the top side of the ladder, we just don’t quite understand that philosophy.”

Not one to put his crew down, Zizzo took responsibility for the loss, which was one of the closest side-by-side races of the day.

“I’m going to speak for myself, I wasn’t that aggressive as I could have been or as I should have been, but I think it’s a good lesson learned,” he said. “From now on, I’m going to go up there with the philosophy of doing my best and being aggressive. We ran well; we just got outrun by a better car. Our hat’s off to Scott Palmer.”

Palmer lost in the second round of eliminations Sunday to Clay Millican, who would go on to win the event after outrunning Don Schumacher Racing’s Leah Pritchett.

Zizzo Racing Qualifying:

Q1: 3.800 seconds at 320.43 mph
Q2: 3.771 seconds at 326.48 mph
Q3: 3.808 seconds at 321.50 mph
Q4: 4.067 seconds at 235.27 mph

E1: 3.807 seconds at 322.04 mph

TJ in the Media: TJ is featured in an article on Competition Plus regarding his return to Route 66 Raceway. Check it out by clicking HERE.

Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team by checking out, Twitter at @ZizzoRacing, Instagram at @TJZizzo, and Zizzo Racing:
Zizzo Racing has been involved in drag racing at the top levels for more than 30 years. Based in Lincolnshire, Ill. and owned by Tony Zizzo, the team started racing in 1980 in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, moving to nitro with TJ in 2004 after earning his class license. In 2007, TJ Zizzo finished second in the final IHRA standings and now competes on a part-time basis in the NHRA Mello Yello Series.

About Rust-Oleum:
For nearly a century, Rust-Oleum has been the global leader in manufacturing innovative coatings that empower do-it-yourselfers and professionals alike across categories including small project paints, cleaners, primers, automotive, industrial, high performance coatings and wood care. Its wide breadth of brands and products include such trusted names as Rust-Oleum, Stops Rust®, Painter’s Touch®, Krud Kutter®, Universal®, EpoxyShield®, Varathane®, Zinsser®, MultiSpec®, Testors®, Modern Masters®, and Watco®. Visit for more information.