From a 6.95 in the opening session that gave him the early qualifying lead to a .010 reaction in the first official elimination round of his young drag racing career, the NHRA Southern Nationals was easily Cory Reed’s finest outing to date. “I was ready,” Reed said of his first-round matchup with many-time Pro Stock Motorcycle event winner Chip Ellis, who once came within one round of the NHRA championship. “I said I was going to get him on the Tree, and I did. Everybody told me ‘Don’t jinx it’ but I knew I was going to cut a light on him.”

Reed, who made the field in just his third career start, may have been well on the way to his first round-win … until the bike didn’t shift into 3rd gear. “When I left, I thought, ‘I was on it,’ and I never saw him at all. Then it wouldn’t shift and hit the rev-limiter, and I just kept hitting the button, hoping it would go into the next gear. That was going to be a good run, really good. It picked the tire up when I hit 2nd gear – that’s how you can tell.”

Astride an S&S-powered YNot Racing/Star Racing EBR 1190RX, Reed was in the sixes virtually all weekend at Atlanta Dragway, the home race on the NHRA tour for Americus, Ga.-based Star Racing. For Reed, who’s made countless test runs in Valdosta, Ga., and Gainesville, Fla., this race represented his first trips down the 40-year-old course, home of an NHRA national event for the past 35 years.

Reed’s Precision Service Equipment teammate, Angelle Sampey, qualified No. 1 with a 6.86 and ran a career-best 6.79 in the first round for low e.t. of the meet, so clearly the power is there. “We really got my bike figured out this weekend,” Reed said. “Something was dragging – maybe the back brake needs a new hanger – so we switched motors with her to make sure that was the problem. My bike’s going to run a lot better; it has low .80s in it. I was on a low .80 run in the first round – 6.81, 6.82 – until the transmission didn’t shift. The way it was trying to run that time and the way Angelle was running all weekend, I know I can win.”