Rust-Oleum Team 12th Friday After Planned Shut Off

JOLIET, Ill.—An up-and-down day for Chicago native TJ Zizzo and his Rust-Oleum NHRA Mello Yello Series Top Fuel team ended with a 12th-place spot in the 16-car field after two rounds of qualifying for the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. The first round was a scratch while the second was a planned shut off at 660 feet that yielded a pass of 3.942 seconds at 248.98 mph.

A misstep after the team's warm up in their pit created a situation where the blower belt was destroyed during the burn out during the first round of qualifying.

“My Friday was fine and it’s getting better," said an upbeat Zizzo at the end of the night. "On the first pass, we made a simple mistake. I had a pulley that was put on backwards when we changed pulleys after the warmup. So when we started the car, the pulley did not turn, which allowed the blower belt to melt.

"So we backed it up and shut it off and then had to press reset. We didn’t learn anything (from that pass). We learned not to put the pulley on backwards for the rest of our careers. I guarantee the guy that did that will never do that again," he said with a laugh.

The second pass of the day took place after sunset when both the track and ambient temperatures were cooler, allowing for quicker laps. The team was able to take advantage of the conditions to put themselves in 12th spot, allowing them to keep their ET of 3.942 seconds tomorrow. Since there are 16 cars qualifying for the event, they are guaranteed a spot in Sunday's finals.

"We went back to our original game plan which was to shut it off at 660 feet on our first full pass and come back and look at the parts," Zizzo said. "We did exactly that and ran a 3.94, which was good enough numbers for a 3.81 on that pass. We shut it off early jut to make sure the parts looked good. Last year, we had some issues; this year, we don’t want any issues. The parts looked stellar. So now our goal tomorrow is to make a full pull to the finish line.”

John Force Racing's Brittany Force earned the provisional pole for the event with a second-round pass of 3.692 seconds at 325.69 mph. Force is also the national record holder in Top Fuel with an ET of 3.676 seconds run earlier this season.

Nitro qualifying for the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals resumes Saturday  at 4 pm & 6:45 pm with eliminations kicking off Sunday at 11 am. Fans can also catch the Rust-Oleum team on TV this weekend with the qualifying show Sunday at 1 am on FS2. Sunday's finals are LIVE on FS1 at 2 pm!

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