At the Four-Wide Nationals, which racers in every pro category seem to loathe but absolutely fans love, Cory Reed turned in his strongest performance of the 2019 season. The former NHRA Rookie of the Year started off well and got only tougher from there, advancing to the semifinals in easily his finest performance since he landed in his first career final the at the Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway late in his 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign.

When absurd 40+ mph winds turned two scheduled qualifying attempts Friday at palatial zMax Dragway into a single session, Reed’s YNot/PSE team clocked an off-the-trailer 6.93 at 192 mph that positioned them in the No. 2 spot at the time. Running in the last of five quads with all the top dogs Saturday in Q2/Q3, Reed stepped way up to a 6.84 at 197.28 mph that propelled him into the upper reaches of the Pro Stock Motorcycle stratosphere. Granted one last crack at the track, Reed’s team showed that the 6.84/197 was for real with a consistent 6.89/196 and entered eliminations smack in the middle of the pack.

In the first round, stuck in the middle of theoretically the toughest quad – 1/8/9/16 – Reed advanced, finishing second of the four with a 6.88/195 that trailed No. 1 qualifier Karen Stoffer’s 6.81/197 but was more than enough to top second-generation driver Jim Underdahl’s 6.93 and former YNot teammate Angelle Sampey’s out-of-the-groove 7.13/151. In the semifinals, Reed left with the other three and outran No. 1 qualifier Karen Stoffer’s 6.95 but his right-there 6.91 wasn’t quite enough to deal with eventual runner-up Eddie Krawiec’s 6.85 or upstart Ryan Oehler’s 6.89. “.040 lights – that’s not gonna cut it,” Reed said. “I can do way better than that. I have and I will – to win, I’ll have to.”