Tag: 2023



Coming off by far the best year of his career, Pro Stock Motorcycle star Joey Gladstone stumbled to a second-round loss at the season-opening Gatornationals. Before a jam-packed house, Gladstone, runner-up for the 2022 NHRA championship with three victories in six final-round appearances, rode Cory Reed’s Precision Service Equipment Hayabusa to the middle rounds of eliminations despite qualifying just 15th.

Gladstone, who won Sonoma, Topeka, and Reading last year, managed a decent 6.84 on his first official run of 2023, fell off on the next two, and broke on the last one, leaving him in a precarious position going into eliminations. “We were a little conservative initially, but when it spun in Q2 and especially in Q3, I knew we had to calm it down for the last session,” he said. “Bad runs like those can be really hard on parts. It hurt the shift forks, but we have the new billet cases, so it was fixed in like 10 minutes, and I knew the bike would run good first round.”

It did. Gladstone posted a solid 6.81 at 196 mph but didn’t need it when No. 2 qualifier Steve Johnson, perhaps intimidated by Gladstone’s renowned starting-line reflexes, threw away his qualifying advantage on a red-light. A round later, it was Gladstone who nullified a sure-win with a foul start opposite Angie Smith, who advanced with just a 15.90.

“It’s not like I was trying too hard – I saw yellow,” Gladstone said. “It felt normal, but I knew it was red when I went by the Tree. I was going to shut it off because at that point it didn’t matter, but about halfway down I thought, ‘This is a good run and we’re not racing again for a while,’ so I stayed in it to get more data.”

It turned out to be a 6.79/197, the team’s best E.T. of the young season. “Not that long ago, .79s were killer,” Gladstone said. “Now, that’s not enough. Everyone is stepping up. This class … it just keeps getting tougher and tougher all the time.”


Annie Whiteley opened the 2023 season not at Louisiana’s No Problem Raceway, where she’s run roughshod over outmatched Top Alcohol Funny Car rivals for half a decade now, but rather in the Valley of the Sun. At Wild Horse Pass Raceway in suburban Phoenix, her weekend didn’t end in victory as it had five years in a row on the Louisiana bayou, but it didn’t turn out badly, either: lots of low 5.50s at nearly 270 mph and a solid semifinal finish.

At Wild Horse, the latest track about to be strong-armed out of existence by the ever-encroaching community surrounding it, Whiteley just missed another final-round appearance, falling to Ray Martin in the semifinals by the invisible margin of seven-thousandths of a second.

The J&A Service team’s weekend got off to a promising start when Whiteley matched reigning world champ Doug Gordon stride for stride to half-track in the opening qualifying session before shutting off to a 5.78 at 188 mph. She actually was faster than he was at half-track – 211 mph to 210 – and he recorded a fine 5.48, so she was absolutely “on one” until she had to lift.

Fifth in a six-car field heading into last-shot qualifying early Saturday afternoon opposite newcomer Hunter Jones, Whiteley delivered an excellent 5.54 at 263.26 mph to catapult all the way up to the No. 2 spot. Jones ended up No. 5 with a career-best 5.57 and nearly matched that in the first round of eliminations with a similar 5.58 at 261 mph, but she had him all the way with her best run of the weekend, a superior 5.50-flat at 265 mph – the quickest and fastest non-Gordon run of the event.

Whiteley’s brand-new YNot Racing Camaro nearly matched that performance again in the semifinals, but she fell to Alaska’s Martin in the most aggravating possible manner: on a holeshot. Hardly late with a .081 reaction time, she flew across the finish line with a 5.51 that left her just short of Martin’s 5.56.

Naturally, no other run he made all weekend would’ve been enough to beat her, and, needless to say, any other light he had all weekend wouldn’t have been enough, either. Even a .031 reaction time would have left him just short in the lights, but Martin had the good fortune to pull off a telepathic .023 light right when he needed it to nudge her out at the stripe by a scant three feet and advance to the final, where he upset Gordon for his first win in years.

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