At the 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year Cory Reed had the reflexes to win but not yet the horsepower. The controversial, one-of-a-kind 4-wide format, which pits bikes side by side by side by side across zMax Dragway’s four lanes, annually presents problems for riders, who have to deal with three times as many opponents as they do at any other event, but for Reed it’s no problem at all.

“A lot of people don’t like the 4-Wides – there’s too much going on and it messes them up – but I like it,” said the sophomore sensation, whose worst reaction time all weekend was a .022. “To me, it doesn’t really matter when I stage – first, last, whenever. I think running four wide actually gives me an advantage.”

Reed clocked a 6.92 at 192 mph right off the trailer and improved to a 6.89 at 191 in the third of four sessions and eventually landed in the No. 11 spot for the second race in a row. In the opening round of eliminations, he found himself in probably the toughest “quad” of the four, facing nothing but former world champs: Team Liberty teammate Angelle Sampey (2000-01-02), Hector Arana (2009), and Andrew Hines (2004-05-06-14-15), who had won the 4-Wide Nationals three years in a row.

With a telepathic .009 reaction time, Reed, who also destroyed the Tree with .00 lights in qualifying, left on Arana and got a noticeable jump on Hines and Sampey, but it didn’t hold. Hines finished first with a 6.83 and Sampey, who made the field on her final attempt for the second straight time, also advanced to the semifinals with a 6.95 while Arana slowed to a 7.27 and Reed to a coasting 10.03 at 83 mph.

“I pulled right up there and got in first,” Reed said. “Angelle even asked me, ‘What was the rush up there?’ There’s was no rush – I was ready to go.”