At the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., for the fifth time in the last six races, Cory Reed advanced to the quarterfinals. It has him on the brink of the Top 10 with one more race before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin, but Reed was more frustrated at the way he lost than pleased to have advanced that deep in eliminations again.

“I was ahead of him the whole way until the bike didn’t shift,” said Reed of his opponent, reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle national champ Andrew Hines, the most prolific rider in bike history with 45 career event titles. “It made the 1-2 and 2-3 shifts just fine, but it wouldn’t go into 4th gear.”

Reed, who left on Michael Ray in the first round of eliminations with a near-perfect .007 reaction time and pulled away with a career-best 6.83, was out on Hines, too, with a .011. Hines, the eventual winner, got the win with just a 6.89 – almost certainly slower than what Reed would’ve run had his bike just gone into gear.

“This is the first loss all year where I’ve been genuinely pissed off,” Reed said. “I mean, I’m still mad. It sucks that it played out the way it did because I knew I was ahead of him. I knew I got a good light – I could just tell – and it was weird because I could hear him over there and knew he was behind me. I probably hit the button five or six times and just rode it out on the chip for a while, then laid my head down on the tank. The one good thing that came out of all of this is that the bike keeps getting faster and faster.”

Reed opened qualifying with a 6.98 and got only quicker from there, with a 6.92 Friday night in the second qualifying session, a 6.89 Saturday morning, and a 6.88 in last-shot qualifying that slotted him in the No. 7 position on the eliminator ladder, tying the career high he established earlier this season at Norwalk. The 6.83 in the first round was the quickest official run of his career by a full five-hundredths of a second. “We picked up points on some people,” Reed said. “I’m just one round out of the Countdown now, so we have real chance at this with one race left.”