CLERMONT, Ind. (July 17, 2020) – Last weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway here and at the team’s first NHRA Mello Yello Series event in 10 months, TJ Zizzo notched a round win against Cory McClenathan and a close quarterfinals loss to the eventual Top Fuel winner, Billy Torrence. This weekend, the Chicagoland native is planning racing the Rust-Oleum Rocket to Zizzo Racing’s first-ever final-round appearance.
For the second weekend in a row and for the second of four scheduled points events, the NHRA’s top series is racing in Indy. While last weekend was the sanction, teams, and fans dipping their respective toes in the water, testing the ability to host live sporting events again in the post-COVID-19 world, this weekend sees racers preparing in familiar territory.
“Truthfully, I’ll be disappointed this weekend if we don’t go to the final round,” Zizzo said. “I’m not going to say we’re going to win the event, but that would be ideal. Of course, that’s always the goal. It would be nice to go to the finals, it would be nice to qualify a little better so we’re not racing the best cars until the final round. But that’s hard to do because there are so many good cars out there.
“The team’s excited. We’ll continue to be successful on and off the race track. I’m really happy with what NHRA did last weekend; I don’t know what this weekend entails as far as fans go, but last weekend (NHRA) did great. They contained everything, I felt safe. I felt safer at the race track then I feel at our body shop, our thirteen thousand square foot body shop where we have plenty of room to roam around and not have to intermingle with a lot of people.”Years of competition in both the IHRA and NHRA have provided Zizzo and his band of long-time volunteer crew members with the experience to win rounds and races. But now, the understanding of success coincides with the funding and the proper parts to make the dream a reality.
“Ultimately, we have the most competitive combination of driver and car we’ve had in our whole Top Fuel career,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind about that. I know we will get better this weekend and I also know that our competitors will get better this weekend. But for us to take 10 months off and go out there and be No. 5 qualifier was pretty impressive. We’ll continue to build on all that. I see there’s more cars on the entry list, that’s great. It’s nice to be able to race back-to-back weekends, it’s nice to leave our semi at Indy. It’s all good.”
In this climate more than ever, the second-generation drag racer understands that without the quality of the marketing partners adorning the side of his hot rod, Zizzo Racing would be sitting home. The team’s primary backer, Rust-Oleum, is not only a great sponsor and a great company, they also provide Zizzo with everything he needs both at the track and in his “day job” of running the family body shop.
“It’s nice that a company like Rust-Oleum stands behind all of this,” Zizzo said. “That’s super cool. They’re a great company that works hard, all their employees work hard, we work hard alongside them every day in our shop.”
Nitro qualifying for this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals at Lucas Oil Raceway kicks off Saturday at 12:15 p.m. local time (EDT) with the second and final session scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Eliminations kick off Sunday at 9:45 a.m.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway kicks off Saturday with nitro qualifying scheduled for 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT with eliminations kicking off Sunday at 9 a.m.
Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team by checking out:
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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Photo Credit: Richard Shute/Auto Imagery and Tyler Evoniuk