Zizzo Excited for Return to "Old Country" in Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif.—TJ Zizzo is a man who respects his roots. Whether it's drag racing or family, Zizzo understands the importance of the places he's been exposed to in his life. That's one of the main reasons the Chicago native loves when the NHRA Mello Yello Series returns to Sonoma Raceway.

“You know why I love California so much?" he asked. "Specifically, the Sonoma area? It’s not the great weather, it’s not the beautiful women, it’s not the wine drinking, it’s the beautiful countryside. The countryside totally reminds me of Sicily. (Sicily) is where my dad (team owner Tony Zizzo) grew up, it’s where my grandma lived, it’s where I visited as a kid and as an adult. That’s why I love Sonoma, California, so much and am looking forward to going back.”

The Sicilian and pilot of the Rust-Oleum Top Fuel dragster plans to get some sightseeing in, but then it's time to go to work. Specifically, the team is looking to build off what they learned at Route 66 Raceway a couple weeks ago when the team made its first appearance of the 2016 season.

The last time Zizzo raced in NorCal was 2013 where he lost in E1 to Morgan Lucas. This time, he feels confident that he can not only go rounds on Sunday, but lay down a career-best lap in the process.

"I think our expectations are similar to what the fans expected in Chicago," he said. "We expect our car to race well, but most importantly, we have a plan. Our plan is to use what we learned in Joliet, which was a lot, on how to keep this race car together and now start applying some clutch. The lesson in Joliet was how to keep the cylinder heads on the race car. But now, we’re going to learn how to apply clutch sooner and if we can do that, we’ll be in very good shape.

"The plan for the first round of qualifying is a 660-foot shut off to see if we can get the clutch to move in and come in sooner in the run and we can make more eighth-mile mile per hour. By Q3, we’re expecting a career-best mile per hour. That’s what we expect, to run in the 3.70s at more than 320 miles per hour.”

The Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals from Sonoma Raceway is being broadcast live once again on broadcast television thanks to NHRA's affiliation with Fox Sports. Viewers can catch the action starting Sunday at 4 pm.

Nitro qualifying kicks off Friday at 4:45 pm (PDT) and again at 8. Saturday's nitro quals start at 1:45 pm and again at 5. Eliminations are scheduled for Sunday at 11 am. For more information on the event, visit RaceSonoma.com. 

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