There’s no getting around it – the Lucas Oil Nationals was a major disappointment for Cory Reed, probably the low point of the former NHRA Rookie of the Year’s young career. Seventeenth is nowhere to be in a 16-bike field – especially when only 18 teams show up.

“I think our motors were hurt when we got here,” Reed said. “Every run, it felt like the bike wasn’t going anywhere.” It wasn’t. Reed, who has run well down into the 6.80s and was getting used to going rounds in eliminations against even the biggest stars of Pro Stock Motorcycle, fell flat with a 7.14 at just 185 mph Friday afternoon, skipped the Friday night session, and missed the all-6-second field Saturday afternoon with back-to-back 7.0s at 191 mph.

With an aggregate best of 7.040/191.35, Team Liberty fell short of the 6.99 bump spot by a half-tenth. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” Reed insisted. “We’ve made progress. We’ve learned things. Ever since Charlotte or Atlanta, it’s looked like we’ve been moving backwards and I guess to a lot of people we have, but a lot of the moves we’ve made have taught us what not to do. And they won’t happen again. I’m OK with everything. It’s not showing up on the race track, I know, but we’re making progress.”