High on the mountain at scenic Bandimere Speedway, Cory Reed and teammate Joey Gladstone fought the conditions with everyone else at the Mile-High Nationals, the only race of its kind on the 18-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle tour. Reed and crew contended with Denver’s notoriously thin air, squeezing out a 7.48 at 181 mph on the first of four scheduled qualifying laps – a full half-second and 15-20 mph short of their Team Liberty bike’s 6-second/200-mph potential at sea level.

When the two-wheeled contingent rolled under the Bandimere tower Friday night for Q2, Reed picked up dramatically to a 7.35 that catapulted him to 11th on the grid, and when seasonal high-country showers washed out the Saturday morning session and reduced qualifying to a three-shot affair, he battled to keep the underpowered machine from bogging off the line as the engine gulped for oxygen that wasn’t there. He picked up yet again to a 7.32/182 and ended up 13th in the final order, stuck with an undesirable first-round match against perhaps the toughest possible foe: many-time world champ Andrew Hines, who has dominated the 2019 season, is a Colorado native, and thus knows the tricky high-altitude conditions as well as anyone.

It didn’t turn out well for the 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year, who, as usual, got the jump at the Tree. Reed shot off the line with a noticeable lead but by the 150-mark found himself trailing the racer who has dominated Pro Stock Motorcycle competition more than any driver in any professional category all year. Hines, who dominated eliminations with 7-teens in all four rounds, crept further ahead with every push of the air-shift button and advanced with a 7.17, low e.t. of the round, while Reed faded with a 7.38.