At always-fast Sonoma Raceway in the wine country north of San Francisco, veteran Cory Reed enjoyed perhaps the third-best weekend of his Pro Stock Motorcycle career, behind only his runner-up finishes at Maple Grove in 2016 and Charlotte earlier this year. All he did was take out one of the most prolific riders of all time, many-time world champ Eddie Krawiec, in the first round and surprise No. 1 qualifier Angie Smith in the quarterfinals for his fifth semifinal finish ever.

Right when conditions theoretically were their best, Friday evening in the opening qualifying session, Reed’s bike bogged off the line, killing his E.T. (7.14) but not keeping him from a solid speed, 197 mph. Early the next afternoon, he improved dramatically to a 6.83/198 for the No. 8 spot, and, three hours later, he unloaded the best run of his entire career, a 6.79/198 – his first official run in the 6.70s – alongside eventual winner Karen Stoffer, who clocked a 6.75 for the provisional pole.

When eliminations commenced, Reed actually had lane choice over always-favored Krawiec, who had just reached the final last week in Denver. The former Rookie of the Year was disappointed with his .098 reaction time, but when Krawiec faltered downtrack, Reed shot ahead for a winning 6.84/197, fighting to keep his bike off the centerline the whole way. “Seems like I never get any luck,” he said, “but I guess I’m lucky today.”

Fortune smiled on Reed Motorsports’ team leader again in the quarterfinals when Smith, who qualified No. 1 for just the second time ever with a career-best 6.73, slowed to a 7.63/129 after assuming a commanding early lead. Reed left with a second straight .090-something reaction time but won in spite of himself with a 6.83/197 while she reluctantly sat up in the seat and slowed. “I should go give her a hug,” a subdued Reed said with a wry smile immediately after dismounting. “I almost feel guilty for beating her. I mean, she had me.”

In the semifinals, opposite many-time world champ Andrew Hines, who has a better head-to-head record against him (8-1) than he does against any other rider, Reed picked up to an .080 light but still bowed out, 6.76/202 to 6.83/192. “I’m not doing too good on the Tree right now, am I?” he asked, a little embarrassed. “I guess I need to stay out of my own head on the starting line.”