TJ Zizzo: Why We’re Going to the US Nationals

TJ Zizzo: Why We’re Going to the US Nationals

Written by  Zizzo Racing on Thursday, 30 August 2018 12:33

INDIANAPOLIS (August 30, 2018)—The Chevrolet Performance NHRA US Nationals is the biggest drag race on Earth. It is the most prestigious.

After missing the event in 2017 and exiting in the first round of what was intended to be the team’s only event of the season at Joliet, TJ Zizzo, pilot of the Rust-Oleum Rocket, sat down and talked about why he and his team are racing at the Big Go this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway.

"The only time we've missed the US Nationals was last year. After having a great running race car in Joliet, qualifying fifth, and really having a good race car, when we lost in the first round as I was going down the race track, going ‘What in the world just happened? How did we lose this?’

“Keep in mind, we lost to a great competitor. Absolutely nothing against Scott Palmer. (He) is an awesome competitor. He does this full time. He is a professional drag racer. But going up to that starting line in Joliet Sunday morning, I was confident we were going to get past first round. I was so confident and our team was so confident that personally, I don't think we were aggressive enough.

That's the reason we want to go to the US Nationals."

“We may lose at the first round at the US Nationals. We may. But we're not going to lose it because we weren't aggressive. First round Joliet, I didn't go up there to cut a .060 light. I went up there to see yellow and step on the gas. Hence, a .10 reaction time. During qualifying, I had good reaction times and I didn't want to make a mistake first round. That's an example of not being aggressive enough. I don't want to lose (by) not being aggressive. Our team doesn't want to lose by not running its best ET in that lane on that given day.

So that's the reason we're going to the US Nationals."

“Thankfully, all our marketing partners rallied around us going to the US Nationals, every single one of them stepped up for us to go. Because it wasn't on the schedule. Going to the US Nationals was not on our schedule this year. Every single one of our marketing partners stepped up to say, ‘Yes, we want to see you compete at the biggest event of the year.’

“That's the reason we're going to the US Nationals.

“All of our team members said we want to go to the US Nationals. Just another reason we're going to the US Nationals. It's our crew chief Mike Kern's 50th birthday on Friday night at the US Nationals, just another reason we're going to the US Nationals. Tony Smith, who has been with us for 25+ years, loves the US Nationals. That's the reason we're going to the US Nationals. My dad, team owner of almost 40 years, loves the US Nationals. Hates missing the US Nationals. That's the reason we're going to the US Nationals. Because everyone I'm affiliated with on our team wants to be there.

“That's the reason we're going to the US Nationals.

“I'm looking at a picture of us exploding, back in 2015, at the US Nationals that's on our wall in the hallway of our shop and I still can't wait to go to the US Nationals. And that was first round against Bob Vandergriff. In this picture, it's about half track or so, the car is engulfed in flames and all I'm doing is looking to see if Bob Vandergriff might have some more troubles than we do at that point of the race, so we can still beat him.

“That's the reason we go to the US Nationals."

Qualifying for the Chevrolet Performance NHRA US Nationals kicks off Friday night at 8 p.m. local time (EDT). Rounds two and three are scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. with the final two qual rounds running Sunday at 12:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eliminations are expected to commence Monday at 11 a.m.

TJ in the Media: TJ was the subject of a feature at where he discusses the team's decision to race the Big Go. Also, produced an awesome write up of Tony Zizzo's return to the track with the legendary Avenger!

Fans of TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing can find updates and photos of the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel team by checking out, Twitter at @ZizzoRacing, Instagram at @TJZizzo, and


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.


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