Forced to sit out qualifying sessions at the biggest race of the year for fear of destroying the only engine he had left, second-year pro Cory Reed hung on to make the U.S. Nationals Pro Stock Motorcycle field and just missed going rounds for the second race in a row.

After a tire-rattling 7.01 under the lights Friday night, Reed laid down a 6.94 early Saturday afternoon, then sat out the next three sessions at the only race on the NHRA tour with five qualifying sessions. “It was weird not running, but we saved parts and it got us to race day,” he said. “If we’d run every session we probably could have gone a .90-flat, but it wasn’t worth trying to blow it up.”

When everybody else got three more shots at the track, Reed eventually slid down to the No. 14 position, setting up a first-round match with No. 3 qualifier Hector Arana Jr., who had reached the Indy final last year. Reed, who broke through for his first round-win of the season two weeks earlier in Brainerd, got a huge jump on Arana with a clutch .018 reaction time, held it until well past half-track, but eventually was overtaken on the big end for a 6.89/194 to 6.97/190 loss.

“I knew I was ahead of him,” said Reed, who maintained the lead to the 1,000-foot mark. “It wasn’t like when I raced Scotty Pollacheck at Brainerd, where I was so far ahead I actually had to turn around to see where he was. I heard him – it’s not hard when there’s a V-twin in the other lane – and I knew he was coming.”

Well aware that Team Liberty might be forced to sit out more qualifying sessions as the season winds down, Reed and crew made the difficult decision to skip the next four races – Charlotte, Maple Grove, St. Louis, and Dallas – and come back with a vengeance at Las Vegas and Pomona. “We’re not in the Countdown and we don’t need to blow up any more motors,” he said. “It’s better to spend more time in the shop, show up at the last two races, maybe shake up the points standings a little, and remind everyone what we can really do when we have all our power.”