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Zizzo Calls His Shot, Puts Rust-Oleum Rocket in NHRA Top Fuel Finals


zizzo topCLERMONT, Ind. (July 19, 2020) – Earlier this week, TJ Zizzo called his shot. The second-generation drag racer said he felt this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway here was the best opportunity the Rust-Oleum Rocket crew has ever had of making the NHRA Mello Yello Series Top Fuel finals.

He was right.

Zizzo turned on three win lights en route to the finals of the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals Sunday. Unfortunately, the race for the team’s first-ever competition Wally against rookie Justin Ashley will have to wait until Labor Day weekend. Due to scheduling issues and the fact Zizzo Racing is not competing at the third NHRA race in Indy in August, it was agreed upon by both teams to race the final round during the US Nationals.

The Chicagoland native raced his way to the finals with victories over Terry Totten, Todd Paton, and Terry McMillen with all three passes consistently in the low 3.80s. Ashley moved past Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta, and Leah Pritchett to earn a spot in the first guaranteed first-time winner finals in Top Fuel in 23 years. The winner of the race will become the NHRA’s 109th different class winner. Zizzo qualifed in the eighth position to start Sunday’s zizzoZizzo Racing By The Numbers:

Q1: 3.937 seconds at 253.75 mph
Q2: 8.450 seconds at 75.47 mph

E1: 3.840 seconds at 323.19 mph, win over Terry Totten
E2: 3.821 seconds at 321.04 mph, win over Todd Paton
E3: 3.837 seconds at 319.67 mph, win over Terry McMillen

tj and tony zizzo

TJ and his dad and team owner, Tony Zizzo, share a moment prior to Sunday’s semifinals win over former US Nationals champion Terry McMillen.

Zizzo in the Media: TJ was the subject of numerous stories and articles this week leading up to Sunday’s history day for the Chicagoland-based NHRA Top Fuel team. Please check out the following:

T.J. Zizzo; a part time racer who is fueled by a full-time mentality by Kevin McKenna, National Dragster

NHRA Returns After Hiatus by Dion Martarano, Journal & Topics

NHRA Top Fuel Dragster Driver T.J. Zizzo Finds Patience is a Virtue by Susan Wade, Autoweek

NHRA Star TJ Zizzo shares what a race weekend consists of for him and his team by Dane Neal, WGN Radio


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.

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.

Photo credits: Auto Imagery, Tyler Evoniuk and Zizzo Racing