Less than an hour from New York City in Englishtown, N.J., in his first appearance at the prestigious Summernationals, one of six “majors” on the NHRA tour, rookie Cory Reed made the cut at a race too fast for many-time national event winner Shawn Gann and former world champ Matt Smith.

Pitted against one of the most accomplished riders in the field, reigning U.S. Nationals champ Jerry Savoie, in the very first pair of the first round, Reed had a holeshot on his mind. “I definitely have to cut a light on him and hope he doesn’t make one of his good runs,” Reed said. “It’s hard to make six or seven of them in a row, and he’s already made a bunch here, so he’s due for a bad one.”

Unfortunately for Reed’s PSE/Star Racing team, Savoie, who qualified No. 2 with a blistering 6.78, laid down a 6.84 that proved immaterial when Reed’s ultra-quick reflexes turned out to be too quick for his own good. The 22-year-old rookie let the clutch fly a fraction of a second too soon for a -.006 reaction time – just six-thousandths of a second from a perfect light but still a red-light start.

“I guess I was too ready,” Reed said. “It’s hard to slow yourself down just a little – you’ll just end up slowing yourself down a lot. I left on yellow – I never saw the red. I didn’t even know I’d red-lighted until they told me at the other end.” Savoie, the third-ranked rider in the 2015 standings, ran him down anyway despite Reed’s fine 6.93, by far his best run of the race.

The weekend ended on a high note when PSE/Star Racing teammate Angelle Sampey claimed an emotional win, the 42nd of her career but her first seven finals over the past nine years.