In some ways, this is the last hurrah for T.J. Zizzo and his current set-up on his NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel dragster.
Wholesale changes are coming in a number of major areas both on and off the track, and Zizzo is doing his part to send this version out with a bang at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park.
Heading into eliminations, Zizzo is qualified at No. 11 as a strong sense of excitement and anticipation centers around the team.
“We’re actually going to be making a lot of changes,” Zizzo said. “This is the last race for some of the equipment we have.
“Everything will be different at Indy for us. It’s time to make the change. If we don’t make changes, we’re just going to be stagnant.”
Before the changes come, Zizzo delivered some outstanding theatrics on Friday in the second qualifying session under the lights.
Paired up with Cory McClenathan, Zizzo made a solid pass of 3.963 at 296.50 that put him at No. 11.
But Zizzo, who claims to have never crossed the centerline during his career, came about as close as possible during the entertaining run.
“It left fine, but then it dropped the No. 5 cylinder and then the No. 7 cylinder, and towards the finish line it drove the car hard left. At that point, I was thinking to myself, ‘Do I lift or do I hang with it?’ I got awfully close to the center line,” Zizzo said.
“I could basically read the side of Cory Mac’s race car. I saw two cones zip by him and his rear tire was way too close to my front tire. I can’t wait to see the onboard camera.
“I had the wheel cranked and as soon as I shut the car off, it went hard right. That was pretty exciting to say the least. But at least it was oil-free and that’s all that mattered to me at that point.”
Zizzo followed that up with a strong 3.987 in the heat of the day Saturday, drawing a hearty applause from the crowd who had yet to see a Top Fuel dragster make it down the track during the final qualifying session.
That brought a smile to Zizzo’s face and adds another piece of momentum to his performance in recent weeks.
Coming off a round win last weekend in Chicago, Zizzo put together a pair of solid passes over the past two days, even picking up two bonus points for the 3.987 at 301.67 mph – his fastest pass of the weekend – he ran on Saturday.
“We’ve been really struggling oiling down the track and that’s not something we like to do. Actually, I get more upset about that than if we don’t qualify,” Zizzo said.
“You don’t want to give the fans that and nobody wants to see the track being cleaned, especially on a 100-degree day. All we wanted to do was slow everything down, take a deep breath and get down the track.
In addition to moving into a new race shop just outside of Chicago on Monday, Zizzo and his team are also making some massive changes to their clutch and supercharger programs.
He’s hoping for major improvements heading into the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and his excited tone indicates plenty of enthusiasm for what the future holds.
“There’s a lot of excitement right now. Anytime you make a change, there’s something new to look forward to. It’s like getting a new girlfriend,” Zizzo said.
In this instance, Zizzo hopes she’s a keeper.
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