INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (September 3 2018) – Drama.
According to high school theater students and reality television, drama is important. During the penultimate round of qualifying at the Chevrolet Performance NHRA US Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway, however, drama is like a rash: aggravating and unwanted.
Said drama was the result of an empty air bottle in the Rust-Oleum Rocket prior to the Q4 run Sunday. While the team had a backup, they were unable to get it replaced in time and driver TJ Zizzo had to scrap the round. Fortunately, his pass of 3.812 seconds at 321.27 mph kept them in the 7th provisional spot.
The team continued to run consistently in the final qualifying round of the event, laying down a lap of 3.848 seconds at 319.90. After Steve Torrence was able to run the quickest pass of the round and move to fifth, Zizzo fell to eighth in qualifying and that is where he remained at its completion. The Chicago native faces two-time winner Blake Alexander in E1 Monday morning.
A naturally-upbeat guy, Zizzo was reflective Sunday evening after he and the team completed the post-qualifying teardown of the car. His .02 second loss to Scott Palmer at Joliet in June continues to dog him.
“I’ve been preparing for the US Nationals’ E1 since the turnoff at Joliet E1,” said Zizzo. “I’m ready for it. It’s a collaborative effort. We all work together. We’ve worked together for a long time. We have cohesiveness. It’s a seasoned team, it’s a veteran team. You just have to look into each other’s eyes to know what they’re thinking.
“We’ve taken a little bit different approach than we did at Joliet here at Indy and it’s paying dividends.We’re being more aggressive in all aspects. Tune ups, driving approach, pushing to the staging lanes, trying to get the team out of there on time every night. We even got them a good hotel so they’re staying in a nice bed!”
A regular race weekend can be grueling for teams. Indy is more so with its extra round and extra day of qualifying. The Rust-Oleum crew has been together for years and can handle the pressure of making a real attempt at winning the Big Go.
“I think they’re always prepared for the excitement,” said team owner Tony Zizzo, TJ’s dad. “They live for this and love it, so they’ll be just as good as they were on the first day.”
Q1: 4.514 seconds at 171.05 mph
Q2: 3.928 seconds at 289.63 mph
Q3: 3.812 seconds at 321.27 mph
Q5: 3.848 seconds at 319.90 mph
Mike Salinas’ Friday night pass of 3.756 seconds at 321.04 mph in his first-ever start at the Big Go. The pass was strong enough provide him with the Top Fuel top qualifier. He faces Wayne Newby in the first round Monday.
Eliminations are scheduled to commence Monday at 11 a.m.
Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team by checking out ZizzoRacing.com, Twitter at @ZizzoRacing, Instagram at @TJZizzo, and Facebook.com/TJZizzo.About 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.
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