PEAK Motor Oil Team Have Their Game Face On in Vegas
LAS VEGAS – They rolled the dice and avoided snake eyes. They hit 21 at the table. They bet it all on black at the roulette table and won. Pick your favorite Las Vegas cliché and apply it to TJ Zizzo and the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner team because when the chips were down at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday, the team put up a 3.879 second ET at a team record 319.14 mph. The run put Zizzo Racing in the 11th qualifying position for Sunday’s Big O Tires NHRA Nationals where they will face three-time and defending NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon.
The Chicago-based team qualified No. 2 in the first round Friday, earning two bonus points in the process, but back-to-back engine issues put the group behind the eight ball. The last-second discovery of an air leak allowed the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner crew to lay down a solid run and get into the show.
“Man, we love to keep it adventurous, don’t we?” Zizzo said with a smile after Q4. “Taking the body and starting panels off the car at the starting line and finding a little air leak at that time…fortunately, there was a little oil down on the track before we ran so we had that opportunity. I’m not saying that was the cause of all of our anguish the past few runs, but it made up for the last run. And we ran 319 mph at a thousand feet, that’s the fastest run of my career!
“This is a very, very emotional sport. It’s very draining for everybody on our team so for us to have our backs against the wall, I knew in my heart we could pull it out and that things would all work out and they did.”
Crew chief Mike Kern was confident the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner dragster would perform as expected based on its Q1 run and the abilities of the Zizzo Racing team.
“We put up a good number in Rd. 1 and we can’t discount that,” he said. “We got cycled out during the second qualifier on Friday and we didn’t make a good run on that pass. We had issues with the head gasket and put a hole (cylinder) out and had the same problem today. We made some changes and verified what the problem was, put it together, and it did what it was supposed to do. We just decided to make it exciting.”