Cory Reed’s drag racing career continued its upward trajectory at the Dodge NHRA Nationals, where he reached his first Pro Stock Motorcycle final with a semifinal holeshot on many-time world champ and yearlong points leader Andrew Hines, 6.90 to 6.85.
“I honestly felt like I won the whole race right there,” he said. “I was happy enough to go home then. To win when you know you have the slower bike … that’s just a big accomplishment.”
From qualifying for his very first race to winning a round in his second start, to going rounds at eight of the next nine races, to his clutch semifinal finish at the U.S. Nationals, the last race of the regular season, to two semifinals and now a final-round appearance in his first three races of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Reed is looking more and more like NHRA’s 2016 Rookie of the Year.
“My mom was hoarse for yelling and screaming on the starting line and my dad came up and hugged me and said he was proud of me,” Reed said. “The whole thing was nuts. One run to qualify, and then you’re in the final.”
Persistent on-and-off rain for the first three days at Maple Grove Raceway in the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania reduced qualifying to a nerve-wracking one-shot format. With an off-pace 7.28, Reed’s Star Racing/YNot Buell squeaked into the field in the No. 13 position, the lowest the team has qualified since Sonoma. They took off from there, dispatching surprise No. 4 qualifier Melissa Surber in the first round, 6.86 to 6.90, and 2009 world champ Hector Arana Sr. in the quarterfinals with the first of back-to-back holeshots, 6.91 to 6.89.
After never getting to the semi’s in his young career before the U.S. Nationals, Reed has now advanced that far at three of the past four races. Last week, it was many-time world champ Eddie Krawiec whom he upset in the second round; this week it was Krawiec’s Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson teammate, Hines, whom he beat for yet another career-first, his first final.
Reed faced long odds in that one – Krawiec had run quicker on his worst run all weekend than Reed had ever run in his life – but Reed cut an even better light against Krawiec, .015, than he had against Hines in the semifinals (.019). He was out of it early when Krawiec had an on-time .026 reaction time and drove right by for a 6.81 to 6.95 win.
“I knew before I got up there that Eddie would have to screw up on the Tree – red light or cut an .085 light or something – for me to win,” Reed said. “I knew I still had to have a good light and hit my shift points, and I did. There was nothing I could do, so when I pulled my helmet off down there at the end, I had a smile on my face.”