As he has at eight of past 11 races in his amazing rookie season, Cory Reed drove deep into eliminations at the NHRA Toyota Nationals, defeating, of all people, PSE/Star Racing/YNot teammate Angelle Sampey on a first-round holeshot – his specialty all year.

Reed, who reached the Pro Stock Motorcycle semifinals at Indy and St. Louis and was runner-up at Maple Grove, charged off The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting line with a telepathic reaction time (.009, just nine-thousandths of a second from a perfect light) to upend Sampey’s quicker 6.97 with a 6.99. She was going faster at the finish line, 191.59 mph to 190.32, but he got there first by exactly 1/30th of a second, which, at more than 190 mph, is about a bike length.

Sampey, who will join Reed on the newly formed Team Liberty Racing operation as a team manager and fellow rider in 2017, qualified higher than her young teammate with a 6.96 at 191.81 mph, good for the No. 5 spot on the 16-bike ladder. Reed was No. 12 with a 7-flat at 188 after unerringly consistent qualifying runs of 7.07/187.26, 7.00/188.86, 7.06/184.57, and 7.07/188.15.

With just a single event left in the 16-race season and six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff, Reed is holding steady in the seventh spot in the national standings and has to be considered the frontrunner for the 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year award.