Cory Reed and Team Liberty’s 2017 season came to an unexpected and abrupt end at the penultimate event of the 16-race NHRA season, the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, where, for the first time all year, Reed failed to qualify for Pro Stock Motorcycle.

After sitting out a couple races to regroup, Reed, who had made the cut at 16 races in a row dating back to Sonoma in June 2016, was off his usual pace at the high-altitude Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, missing the 6-second zone and even the 7.0s. He opened with a 7.173 at 184.04 mph in the first qualifying session Friday afternoon, and picked up slightly to a 7.130/184.80 that evening that wound up being his best run all weekend.

“Changing cams was just too aggressive for what we were trying to do,” said Reed, the 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year. “It just wore out the intake valve springs on the first two runs.” Saturday dawned clear and slightly cooler but the improved conditions weren’t enough to help the weakened engine in Reed’s Team Liberty machine, which fell off to disappointing times of 7.172/182.35 and 7.233/181.59

“This definitely isn’t the way we wanted to end the year, but in that situation, there wasn’t much we could do,” Reed said. “We’ll skip the Finals at Pomona – there’s really no reason to go out there – and be back better than ever next year. We knew it was going to be tough to start a brand-new team from the ground up, and it has been, but we’ve got some big things coming this off-season.”