The Four-Wide Nationals was the quickest, fastest Pro Stock Motorcycle race ever, by far – but not for Cory Reed. For him, it was another trying, unfulfilling weekend, the third in four outings this year, broken up only by his runner-up showing at 2021’s other Four-Wide Nationals, held last month at Las Vegas.

All around the former Rookie of the Year, drivers were making history in the cool Charlotte air, highlighted by PSE teammate Joey Gladstone, who became the eighth and final member of the prestigious Denso Spark Plugs 200-MPH Club with a 200.23-mph blast. Teams reset the NHRA national speed record four different times over the weekend, including three in the same qualifying session, and when eliminations commenced, Reed faced a former world champion in every lane – not just in the other lane, but in all three other lanes.

And right when he really could have done some damage, Reed’s bike let him down. It wasn’t some everyday glitch; this was something that basically never happens – the front brake started locking up. “I was pre-staging, and the bike doesn’t really want to roll, and I’m like, ‘Is the track really this tight?’ ” Reed said. “It really had a lot of rolling resistance, like more than ever. I didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

Right until he tried to approach the line, everything had been normal. He rattled off three unerringly consistent qualifying passes: 6.87/197, 6.87/199, and 6.85/197. The biggest names in the sport occupied every other lane, but Reed held his own, leaving first and making his best run of the weekend, a 6.83/197 that covered 2016 world champion Jerry Savoie’s 6.84/196 but not four-time champion Eddie Krawiec’s 6.77/202 or three-time champ Matt Smith’s 6.78/201.

“That was probably gonna be a .70-something,” Reed said. “At the 330-foot mark, I was in front of everybody – look at the time slip – but that damn front wheel was dragging and they went around me. Just add it to the list, I guess. I don’t get it. Sometimes, drag racing doesn’t make any sense. You take off, and you know it was a decent light and you start to think, ‘Oh yeah…’ And then the farther you go, the more something’s slowing you down. In the shutdown area, I didn’t even have to apply the brakes. The bike did it for me.”