In his first outing with all-time Pro Stock greats Larry Morgan and Jim Yates in the fold, 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year Cory Reed went rounds at the season-opening Gatornationals, sidelining new national record holder Hector Arana Jr. with a clutch holeshot in the first round. Arana, who became the first Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to eclipse 200 mph in Friday qualifying and upped the all-time mark to 201.01 mph Saturday, got left in the dust by Reed’s near-perfect .007 reaction time, falling to a 6.95/191 despite his quicker 6.94/198.

“I didn’t think we’d outrun him, but I knew we’d be close enough to beat him,” said Reed, who, in his brief time in drag racing, has already established himself as a leaver. “My mindset was that I absolutely could win, and when I left it felt like a good light – I even did a double-take as I went by the Tree to make sure it wasn’t red. Halfway down the track, I still didn’t hear him, and when I glanced over a couple times at about half-track, he wasn’t there. In high gear, it hit me: I’m going to win.’ ”

Reed qualified 13th in the field, well behind Arana’s 6.80/201 record run with a 6.91 at 191.67 mph – not bad for the first outing with an all-new setup. “We tested in Orlando before the race,” he said. “We were still down there Thursday, the day before qualifying started for this race, and didn’t pull into Gainesville until late Thursday night.”

The results of the team’s focused, intense testing were obvious when Gainesville qualifying began and everybody was playing for keeps. “First race of the year, and we already have a round-win,” said Reed, currently eighth in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle standings. “Last year, it took us more than half a season to get this far. Larry had the motors running great, redid pretty much everything, worked his magic. Jim’s smart. He’ll be helping us for a few more races, at least. He has all these crazy formulas and spreadsheets. He set up his own office in the trailer – even brought his own printer – and when it comes to the transmission, gear ratios, clutch tuning, he really knows his stuff. After this, my goal is to at least go a few rounds like we did here at every race for the rest of the year.”