Cory Reed’s rocket ride to the top of Pro Stock Bike racing took a slight detour at the event he was looking forward to more than any other this year, the Sonoma Nationals, where instead of racing more than a mile above sea-level as he had one week earlier at Denver, he competed at the much lower – and faster – altitude of just 15 feet.

Reed picked up more than three-tenths of a second from Denver, where, for the third race in a row, he advanced to the quarterfinals, but a 6.93 at nearly 190 mph that at the time had him 10th in the field in the end left him a few hundredths of a second short of the fastest field in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle history. The bump was 6.90-flat, and 15 of the 16 were in the 6.80s, where Reed was sure his PSE/Star Racing bike would have been had he gotten his final qualifying shot.

“The little clip that holds all the gears in place popped out,” said Reed, who was shut off behind the line and didn’t even get his last shot at cracking the field – right when the conditions were perfect. “That put it into fifth gear on the burnout, and burned out the gear. It got fused up because it was stuck in fifth.”

Unlike in Denver when all appeared to be lost in a similarly stressful behind-the-line situation and he made it to the line in time to whip Shawn Gann in the first round of eliminations, this time Reed could only watch veteran Steve Johnson disappear into the distance while his bike sat silenced behind the line. “The TPS [throttle-position sensor] was bad, and when you take off and the TPS quits, it kills the transmission. It’s too bad. It was a brand-new transmission. We put one in that already had something wrong with it – that was the crappy part. We felt like there was no way we wouldn’t qualify, and then that happened.”

It was a bitter pill to swallow after pretty much doing better every time out this year. “I was starting to get used to it,” Reed said. “We were trying some new stuff Friday because we knew we had two shots Saturday if it didn’t work. We thought we were good.” There’s still time for a charge into the Top 10 and even a shot at the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Though the NHRA season is two-thirds of the way over, the Pro Stock Motorcycles are barely halfway through, and they’ll be at every race until the end of the season.