After what transpired at the Four-Wide Nationals, former NHRA Rookie of the Year Cory Reed is probably better positioned than ever to take down that elusive first NHRA title. In the first quad (round) of eliminations under the sometimes-confusing four-lane format, Reed trounced not only Ryan Oehler in the lane next to him but both Joey Gladstone and reigning world champ Eddie Krawiec on the adjoining track to his right for the most significant round-win of his young career.
“I knew I was going to win that time,” said Reed, who pulled out the zMax gates 5th in the NHRA standings, the highest he’s ever been at any point in any season. “The way I feel now is the mindset it’s going to take to win one of these things. I feel this way and act this way because I really do think we can wax anybody at any time.” Such optimism is hardly unfounded – the addition of all-time Pro Stock greats Larry Morgan and Jim Yates has clearly transformed Team Victory, which is sneaking up on the long-established Pro Stock Motorcycle elite a little more each time out.
Reed found himself in the No. 1 qualifying position after two complete sessions of Friday qualifying for the first time in his career with a 6.83. His winning first-round time against Oehler (who also advanced to the semi’s – second place in each quad moves on, too), Gladstone, and Krawiec was a 6.81, his quickest time to date. The .81 stood as Low E.T. for all 16 bikes in that round – another career-first – but according to the driver himself it could have been a few ticks quicker. “It spun the tire,” he said, “I got a little excited and short-shifted three gears or that seriously would have been about a .77.”
“The motors go Columbus [Ohio with Morgan] after every race,” Reed said. “We do all the chassis stuff at the shop, and at the track Jim [Yates} has spreadsheet after spreadsheet of gear ratios to try. You can really tell the difference. I was at about mid-track on the first run we ever made and thought, ‘This thing really sounds aggressive.’ It just sounded mean, like some kind of growl. There’s so much power, every time I shift, it spins the tire for a split second.”
Early in the semifinal quad it spun a little too hard, and Reed slipped to a 6.94 and fell to Scotty Pollacheck, who won with a 6.84, and Matt Smith, who also made it to the final by finishing second with a 6.88. “The 60-foot time sucked,” Reed said. “It spun so bad, it killed the momentum for the whole run. We’re still trying to find that sweet spot and it’s a little hit-or-miss right now because we don’t have enough data with this much power. But when we hit it, we really hit it. I have to say, right now is the best things have ever been.”