After a 3½-month layoff, veteran Top Fuel driver T.J. Zizzo is returning to action at the NHRA Toyota Nationals (Oct. 26-29) at The Strip at Las Vegas Speedway.

“The reason we decided to race at Vegas is because it is tied to SEMA,” Zizzo said. “I do a lot of work for Rust-Oleum. I work with their R&D, I work with their chemists, I work their marketing people, and I work with their sales guys. I work with all facets of Rust-Oleum and because they have a large booth at SEMA, they wanted us to kick that off with racing in Vegas.”

The 2017 SEMA Show will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The last time Zizzo competed at an NHRA national event was July 9 at the Route 66 Nationals in Chicago. He and his team had a fantastic performance in what was his team’s season debut.

Zizzo made it all the way to semifinals before losing to eventual race champion Steve Torrence. That matched Zizzo’s career-best effort as he also made it to the semis in Seattle in 2013.

“This is a sport where you can go from hero to zero no matter who you are,” Zizzo said. “Do I have confidence? Yes. The race car doesn’t know it has been off for almost four months. The race car has no idea. So, the race car should be better than it was at Chicago because we have learned some stuff. We’ve raced at Vegas multiple times, so we understand the air quality and racing at altitude and all that stuff. I’m confident we will have a good race car, but that doesn’t mean you are going to win. I’ve sized up the competition and I know where we are going to be. The team has worked really hard since Chicago and we have more parts and pieces than we did going to Chicago, so we should be in good shape.”

Zizzo said his team is just competing at Las Vegas this coming weekend and will not be at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals Nov. 9-12 in Pomona, Calif.

During his career, Zizzo raced at Vegas five times – 2010-2014 – all at the fall race.

Zizzo, who made his NHRA Top Fuel debut in September of 2003, said he will be racing again in 2018, but he doesn’t have a set schedule. In 2016, Zizzo’s team only competed in four races – Chicago, Sonoma, Calif., Seattle and Indianapolis.

When Zizzo is not racing, he keeps plenty busy with his family’s Zizzo Auto Body shop in Lincolnshire, Ill.

“I love racing,” he said. “I’m the first one there and the last one to leave, but at the same time I have other irons in the fire. Our business is booming. I’ve told people we are not an underfunded (drag racing) team, we just don’t get the opportunity to race often, that’s all.”