Right off the trailer at Atlanta Dragway, which has hosted major events since the IHRA glory days of the 1970s, Cory Reed sped to a 6.98 at more than 192 mph that qualified him No. 3 at the time. Following an aborted 14-second time in the second session opposite veteran Karen Stoffer, he rolled silently across the finish line in the never-good upright position at 49 silent mph in Q3 and entered last-shot qualifying an uncustomarily low 12th on the provisional grid, eyeing something in the low 6.90s or high 6.80s on his final attempt.
Instead, Reed’s bike registered an unfulfilling 7.01 at 191 mph and he entered eliminations in the No. 12 qualifying spot. PSE/YNot teammate Joey Gladstone finished a couple spots ahead of him, 10th in the final order with an aggregate best of 6.94/193.99. Between them was 2009 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Hector Arana Sr., who clocked in at 6.95/194.55.
Reed, who has never had any luck against 2016 world champion Jerry Savoie, his first-round foe, blasted off the line with a clutch .026 light, but for once he didn’t get the best of even that battle. Savoie, never known for his reaction times, outdid him with an even better .013 bulb and pulled away for a 6.91/192 to 7.01/191 round-win, his fifth in five head-to head-matchups with the former motocross racer. To compound the YNot’s team’s frustration, Gladstone came out on the wrong end of a hard-fought first-round encounter with Ryan Oehler in which both drivers cut killer .015 lights, 6.92/195 to 6.95/192, despite holding the lead to half-track.