At the Sonoma Nationals just north of San Francisco in Sonoma, Calif., second-year sensation Cory Reed came within a thousandth of a second of his best run all year. Reed, crowned Rookie of the Year after his incredible 2016 campaign, picked up more than a tenth of a second from his opening qualifying run to record a 6.889 – just one-thousandth of a second from the season-best he established at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Reed ran an out-of-the-box 6.99, picked up dramatically in the second session to a 6.92, and, after a 7-flat in the third session, inched to the line in the final session riding the bubble with the 6.92. Under intense pressure, the Team Liberty rider dropped the hammer for a 6.88 at 191.46 that surprisingly landed him on just the 14th rung on the qualifying ladder.

That set up a first-round match with the No. 3 qualifier, perennial championship contender Hector Arana Jr. For once, Reed actually didn’t tree his opponent, and against one of the fastest bikes in the country, he was out of contention early in the race. Reed recorded a respectable 6.97 at 186 mph, but Arana’s Lucas Oil-backed bike was long gone with a 6.74 at the sixth-fastest speed in Pro Stock Motorcycle history, 199.52 mph.

“This wasn’t a good weekend for us,” Reed admitted. “We’re a new team, and this is going to happen sometimes, but when we get our dyno done and get to try all the stuff [crew chief] Ken [Johnson] has in mind, we’ll be fine.”