Cory Reed staggered into Richmond determined to shake off the most discouraging outing of his career and officially hit rock bottom in the opening qualifying session with an even more disappointing 7.28. From the depths of the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order, Reed’s Team Liberty Buell then picked up dramatically to a 6.96 Friday night, skyrocketing 10 spots in the order. “There’s no magic to this,” he said, “just hard work. We wasted time testing a tire that really killed the bike, really set us back, but I think that’s all behind us now.”

Reed stepped up even further Saturday afternoon with a 6.93 and woke up Sunday back in the race, with a legitimate shot to go rounds and a positive attitude about both his team and Pro Stock Motorcycle racing in general. “The bike class is still growing, and there are big gains to be made for all of us,” he said. “We can find a tenth out here – I’m not kidding. It’s there. We can go 205 mph. The whole field can be in the 200s. The front half of the class is really tight, really competitive, compared to the last couple of years.”

Facing a driver from that top half in the opening round of eliminations, No. 3 qualifier Matt Smith, Reed got the jump off the line, as he typically does, but Smith ran him down for a 6.87 to 6.98 win. “I don’t even care,” he insisted. “We’re better off now than we were when we got here. Larry [Morgan] and Jim [Yates] came up through the hard times of Pro Stock – they know what it takes to win out here. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pro Stock or Pro Stock Motorcycle – motors are motors, clutches are clutches, and transmissions are transmissions. Get it all right, and you’ll win.”