It’s all up to Joey Gladstone now. With team leader Cory Reed sidelined indefinitely by the incapacitating injuries from his horrifying Charlotte crash, Gladstone will have to be the one to do it if Reed Motorsports is to lock down its first-ever Top 5 finish in the final NHRA standings.
Robbed of what would’ve been his first career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in the Charlotte final when the kill switch somehow became unplugged (“I can’t stop thinking about it – I still think about it every day,” he said), Gladstone now leads the charge with three races to go and the Top 5 just outside their collective grasp. Sixth in the standings coming into this race, he set the tone with an off-the-trailer 6.90 – the same number that would flash on the Texas Motorplex scoreboards after every run he made all weekend but one.
Following that pass, a forgettable 6.99/194 under the lights Friday night amid the track’s tacky Spectacle of Speed fiasco, Gladstone pounded out identical 6.90s Saturday afternoon – a 6.908 at 194 mph in the left lane and a subsequent 6.905 at 195 in the right, his quickest lap of the race. Another 6.90 in the first round of eliminations and he’d have been right back in the middle rounds because he absolutely drilled longtime nemesis Jerry Savoie on the starting line.
But at Dallas, Savoie is the last rider anyone wants to face – especially Gladstone, now 0-7 lifetime against the 2016 world champ. Savoie, who’s appeared in the final round here six years in a row and won the past two, was way, way behind Gladstone coming off the line with a .104 reaction time, but even a .023 light wasn’t enough to hold him off.
Gladstone’s Vance & Hines-powered Hayabusa had him at half-track, but at the finish line the 6.90 on the scoreboard was not in his lane but rather in Savoie’s. “I’m still a little banged up [from a crash earlier this year at a non-NHRA event in Darlington, S.C.], my friend’s all banged up, and we’re just out here doing the best we can out here,” said Gladstone, who slipped to a 7.01 in the dispiriting loss. “Cory’s a warrior. His leg’s still beat up pretty bad and it’s gonna be a long road to recovery for him, but he’ll be back out here, trust me. And after Charlotte I know I can win one of these things.”