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Career Weekend Ends in Quarterfinals for TJ Zizzo

TJ Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster team continued to turn heads and impress NHRA fans earning their first career No. 1 qualifier at the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals. On race day Zizzo took out No. 16 qualifier Tony Stewart before bowing out to Dan Mercier in the quarterfinals. The weekend was a huge success for the Chicago-based Top Fuel team as they started their 2024 season with solid runs and momentum heading into the season.

“Sure, you lose in the second round and you are disappointed by that right?” said Zizzo. “But then you have to trace your steps back. We hadn’t raced for seven months, to come out here and make respectable runs every single time, almost every single time, was awesome. We did well, we showed our marketing partners, friends, and family that we have a really great team. Our team is excited.”

During qualifying Zizzo posted the quickest run in three of the four qualifying sessions for the Top Fuel class earning nine total bonus points. His team also gathered valuable data to use later in the season. As the No. 1 qualifier Zizzo was able to recognize his entire crew during the opening ceremonies and celebrate their tremendous accomplishment.
 
“To go out on the stage with our entire team with yellow hats on was something that a couple of fans told me that they had never seen done before and they said it was the best thing they have ever seen in the NHRA,” said Zizzo. “Those things mean the world to me. They mean as much to me as winning rounds. So that is spectacular. We have a month and a half to prepare for Norwalk, we’ll be good and look forward to it.”
 
In the opening round Zizzo pulled up beside rookie Top Fuel driver Stewart, a Hall of Fame NASCAR driver and accomplished IndyCar racer, and Zizzo took care of business grabbing the win. His winning time of 3.805 seconds was the second quickest winning time of the first round. It was another strong run for the Rust-Oleum team on a tricky racetrack.

In the quarterfinals racing against Mercier who was racing in just his second race of the 2024 season himself, Zizzo knew he would need another strong run. Mercier took a slight advantage off the starting line and held off Zizzo as both 12,000-horsepowered Top Fuel dragsters blasted down the track. Mercier reached the finish line with a winning elapsed time of 3.842 seconds just in front of Zizzo’s 3.930 second pass. It was a strong side-by-side race that brought the crowd to their feet.

Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team will be back in action at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, June 28-30 at Summit Motorsports Park.

This story was originally published on May 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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