Still getting up to speed in his second start back on the NHRA tour – literally and figuratively – Cory Reed made his first six-second pass this season in a first-round loss to veteran Chip Ellis. “I’m getting more and more comfortable every run,” said Reed, who picked up considerably every time down the super-fast Maple Grove Raceway quarter-mile, from the 7.20s to the 7.10s to the 7.0s to, when it mattered most, in eliminations, the 6.90s.
“Shutting down can still be a little nerve-wracking,” said Reed, whose 2021 Charlotte accident unfolded well beyond the finish line. “You go through what I went through, and now when you get on the brakes at the top end, you can’t help but think, ‘Hey, this is where something bad can happen…’ I’ve made a lot of runs at almost 200 mph and never even thought about what could go wrong, but on a motorcycle, the shutdown is the hardest part. The scariest part.”
The weekend began with a thud when Reed never made it to the lanes for the first qualifying session. “We had some wires swapped around backwards,” he said. “Without a computer, it’s kind of hard to know that until you go to start the bike, and we couldn’t get the damn thing to start. Everybody’s thrashing, and finally I just said, ‘Stop. This isn’t the end of the world. Let’s just have it right for the next one,’ and we went from there.”
Reed got on the grid with a leisurely 7.22 at 188.41 mph later Friday afternoon, improved to a 7.16/179 early Saturday, and settled into the No. 15 position with a 7.04/192 that evening. It might not have changed the final outcome, but the team definitely could have benefited from that first qualifying pass because Reed picked up considerably on Sunday, and, with his reflexes, an extra run to build from might have made the difference.
Ellis, known more for getting the last thousandth of a second out of every run than for his starting-line reflexes, wasn’t there to win. He was in Reading to block for Matt Smith Racing and to help Smith win the event, which, by advancing to the final against Smith and strolling off the line with a casual .400 light, he certainly did. Reed nailed him on the Tree in the first round, but Ellis easily drove around his season-best 6.94 with an effortless 6.76.
“It was still a good weekend,” Reed said. “The coil was arcing off the frame and robbing power, and we kept chasing it and really could have used another run, but it is what it is. At this point in my life, I’m not gonna freak out about something like that. It’ll all be all right in the long run.”