The Zizzo Racing team knew they would be fighting an uphill battle when they announced their limited NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule. For second generation drag racer TJ Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster the process of pulling together his team and being competitive at the highest level was just as important as win lights this season. Through three rounds of qualifying Zizzo made a strong run and then worked to step up to prepare for race day today at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway.
“We made some changes over the winter and to be honest it took us some time to figure out the direction we needed to go in the future,” said Zizzo. “Mike Kern, our crew chief, along with clutch specialist Tony Smith and our new consultant Rahn Tobler looked at all the runs we made in Brainerd and this weekend in St. Louis so we know what we need to do for next year. I am proud of this Rust-Oleum Rocket team from top to bottom. Racing at this level is not easy and takes so much time and energy.”
The team made their best run of the weekend on Friday night which held up to secure them a spot in the third quickest Top Fuel field in history. Off the trailer they lit up the scoreboard with a solid 3.798 second pass at 325.53 mph which had them sitting in the No. 11 spot out of 19 Top Fuel dragsters competing for 16 positions.
Saturday of qualifying had the team looking for a few hundredths of a second to move up the qualifying ladder. There are thousands of variables that affect how these 11,000 horsepower race cars perform and the more runs the teams have the easier it is for teams to improve. Kern, Smith and Tobler used their decades of experience to adjust the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster.
“We came out for two races this season and we represented ourselves really well,” said Zizzo. “We had a tough first round opponent in Brittany Force, and we knew we would need everything to go our way to get to the quarterfinals.”
As the No. 15 qualifier Zizzo drew the No. 2 qualifier Force, who had her eight race No. 1 qualifier streak snapped this race by Mike Salinas. Zizzo was at a decided performance disadvantage, but he also knew anything could happen on the track.
Both cars left the starting line together but as they began to accelerate Force was pulling away from Zizzo. As the 2020 NHRA Summernationals runner-up was approaching 400 feet his Goodyear slicks lost traction while Force was making a historic run beside him. She posted the quickest pass of the event, 3.641 seconds, and the sixth fastest pass, 337.66 mph, in the history of Top Fuel. The speed to set the track record and was the third quickest pass in the history of Top Fuel.
“The biggest positive of this weekend was we represented Rust-Oleum and all our sponsors professionally and we had a good time,” said Zizzo. “There were lots of people in our pits experiencing NHRA drag racing for the first time. Racing these two races was a challenge but I am glad we did it because we learned a lot about a positive direction for next year.”
Q1: 3.798 sec, 325.53 mph, No. 11
Q2: 9.593 sec, 83.96 mph, No. 14
Q3: 5.426 sec, 125.35 mph, No. 15
Bonus Points: 0
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
TJ Zizzo 15 .092 4.921 144.29
Brittany Force 2 .080 3.641 337.66 (W)
Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Ten – Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence, 2373
2. Brittany Force, 2337
3. Billy Torrence, 2247
4. Mike Salinas, 2239
5. Justin Ashley, 2235
6. Leah Pruett, 2222
7. Antron Brown, 2188
8. Shawn Langdon, 2164
9. Clay Millican, 2157
10. Doug Kalitta, 2096
Tony Fay PR