Zizzo to Face Langdon After Qualifying 11th at Winternationals
POMONA, Calif. - After laying down a 3.870 ET in the first round of qualifying for the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals Thursday and having Friday's round canceled due to rain, TJ Zizzo and the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel team were ready to hit the track Saturday at the Auto Club Raceway. But after two rounds, resulting in ETs of 4.636 and 3.952 respectively, Zizzo Racing saw their starting spot in Sunday's eliminations drop from seventh to 11th.
The team, led by Lisle, Ill.-native Mike Kern, hoped to repeat their time from Thursday and, for the most part, was able to accomplish that. Unfortunately, the No. 317 rail fell victim to engine gremlins at the end of both passes.
"We had a little problem with the supercharger (in the first round) and gave up the ghost a little bit," Kern said. "So that run was a scratch.
"On the second run, we went out there and tried to repeat that Thursday time again and bump up a spot or two. It went out and did what we call 'ker-plunked the motor,' where the clutch locks up and grabs the motor. And it looks like it pushed a head gasket out on us. So we'll get her fixed and get her ready for tomorrow morning."
As the teams arrived to the track Saturday morning, there were questions as to whether or not any racing would take place at all. The weather forecast all week called for thunderstorms and a hard rain producing sizable hail mid-morning seemed to bear that out. Fortunately for the teams and the fans, NHRA officials were able to prep the track and, with Mother Nature's cooperation, the last two rounds of qualifying were run as scheduled.
For Zizzo Racing, improvements are being made at every race. As such, times and qualifying positions that would have been cause for celebration in the past is now reason for long faces in the PEAK Motor Oil/Herculiner pit.
"As I'm crossing the finish line today and I look up and see that 3.95 on the scoreboard, and we knew we hurt some parts on that pass, I was disappointed," Zizzo said, taking a break from thrashing on the car with his team. "We were all disappointed. We expect more. I expect more. Our expectations have grown exponentially from where we were last year. We wanted to see a 3.85 on the board."
In the first round of eliminations Sunday, Zizzo faces sixth-place qualifier Shawn Langdon. Langdon earned his spot with an ET of 3.847 at 314.31 mph. Larry Dixon, who earned his third NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel title at this very track in November, continued his domination of the class Saturday, earning top qualifier honors with a national record ET of 3.770 at a track-record speed of 324.98 mph.
source: zizzo racing