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TJ Zizzo Records First Career No. 1 Qualifier at Route 66 Nationals

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It has been a long time coming but TJ Zizzo today secured his first NHRA national event Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 Nationals. The veteran driver who campaigns the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster on a limited schedule held off a furious charge from world champions and full-time teams over four rounds of qualifying at Route 66 Raceway. Zizzo’s quickest time of 3.735 seconds at 331.77 mph posted during the second qualifying session held up throughout Saturday’s sessions.

“I’m normally very chatty but right now I’m speechless,” said Zizzo, a fan favorite when he competes. “This is fantastic. This has been a great weekend so far, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. But to be the No. 1 qualifier, that is our first No. 1 qualifier, we have been doing this a long time. My entire volunteer team works their tail off and here we are, No. 1 qualifier at our hometown event.”

“This is a dream come true,” added Zizzo. “I had an epiphany while I was power washing my deck was ‘TJ stop thinking about not qualifying at this event and start thinking about being No. 1 qualifier at this event.’ I told our entire time that last week and I told my dad that. I said here is the deal guys, we have the equipment, the people, the know how to be No. 1 qualifier, and that is what we are going to do. That is a dream come true.”
Last year Zizzo and the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team which also added support this season from Dundee Heating and AC, Indak, Blager Concrete,Master Truck and Trailer and recently announced an extension with Button Transportation raced to the semifinals from the No. 16 qualifying position. Zizzo’s best qualifying effort at the Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 Nationals came in 2018 when he raced to the No. 5 spot only to be upset in the first round by Scott Palmer.

“We have had so many memorable moments in Chicago we want to make some new memories this year,” said Zizzo. “Last year we almost made it to the final. We ran great in the first two rounds and then smoked the tires against Josh Hart in the semis. You look at the competition now and it will be a fun weekend. I think you could see the quickest Top Fuel field in history if the weather cooperates so we will need to be prepared.”
Zizzo has raced at Rt. 66 Raceway more than any other facility on the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series tour. He will be surrounded by family and friends throughout the weekend. The added support is something that Zizzo enjoys and relishes. Zizzo will race Tony Stewart in the first round of eliminations tomorrow which will begin at 11 a.m. CST. The race will be broadcast on FS1 nationally.

This story was originally published on May 18, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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