Tag: cory (Page 1 of 9)

PSM – POMONA

Cory Reed and Joey Gladstone never made a run at the NHRA World Finals, where last year the team reached the final to lock up a second-place finish in the final Pro Stock Motorcycle standings. That was never the plan this time anyway – the team was at Pomona strictly to further rider Blaine Hale’s career, and they did.

“I don’t know why or what the deal is, but when I help somebody else reach a goal, the feeling of accomplishment is the same as if I’d done it myself,” Reed said. “Not riding would be harder if Joey or I really wanted to drive this weekend, but right now he has enough going on that doesn’t even care, and at this point neither do I. Blaine’s really coachable, and we just want to help him.”

With the 2023 championship long decided and Reed Motorsports’ focus squarely on 2024, the team concentrated on giving Hale, a former national event winner who made his team debut last month in Dallas, the best bike possible. Hale qualified 16th and drew the utterly unbeatable Gaige Herrera in an impossible first-round matchup in which the impossible nearly happened.

Herrera, who won the 2023 championship in a landslide with an incredible 50-4 win-loss record, qualifying No. 1 at 13 of 14 events and winning 11 of 12 finals, lurched off the line and was, for once, vulnerable. He stumbled to one of his worst runs of the season, a 10.89 at 77 mph that left him hundreds of feet behind Hale at the finish line, but Hale invalidated a sure win with a -.256 red-light.

“It’s too bad,” Reed said. “With his leathers on, Blaine’s probably 200 pounds, but it’s not like he’s lost out there. He’s not out of control or anything. Every time he gets off the bike, he’s like, ‘this happened here,’ or “the bike did this here.’ He knows what’s going on.”

As for his team rider, Gladstone, Reed said, “We’re both looking forward to next year. Joey’s my best friend in the world. Even last year, he was like, ‘Are you  sure you’re OK with me doing so good when you can’t even walk around yet?’ I told him, ‘When you’re riding the bike, I feel like it’s me on there.’ I get that much enjoyment out of it. We’ve got big plans for next year. Joey’s a winner. He’s not out here just to be out here, to be sixth or seventh or tenth in points. He’s here to win races and championships.”

PSM – LAS VEGAS

Joey Gladstone was never going to win the Nevada Nationals. He wasn’t there to win.

As a replacement rider for veteran Angie Smith, who crashed Sept. 30 at St. Louis, Gladstone was in Las Vegas solely to block for her husband, reigning world champion Matt Smith, who still has a microscopic chance to overtake unbeatable Gaige Herrera for the 2023 Pro Stock Motorcycle championship.

So when Gladstone had to roll out of the throttle and watch his opponent pull around him and drive away to victory, it was nothing he wasn’t prepared for. “Does it suck knowing you have to lose if you race a teammate?” he asked. “It would if you didn’t know what you were signing up for, but I knew. When someone like Matt Smith calls and asks you to drive a V-Twin for him, you say yes. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, you say yes.”

With far more torque and far less rpm than the Reed Motorsports Suzuki he rode to second place in the 2022 NHRA standings, Gladstone had an altogether different experience than what he’s become accustomed to. “Riding this Buell is taming an angry bull,” he said. “You’re really busy for that first eighth-mile, shifting five times in four and half seconds, and then you’re in high gear forever. It’s a rowdy beast, like a Pro Stocker with an extra shift.”

Gladstone was absolutely “on one” in Friday’s first qualifying session but had to click it and coast to a 7.19 at just 152 mph, and it more of the same later that afternoon when he put up an identical 7.18/151. After skipping the early Saturday session, he intentionally lifted early and then got back on it for an incongruous, ridiculous E.T. and speed of 9.05 at 194 mph.

“It’s impossible to know exactly where you’re supposed to shut off and where you should get back on it to get good data but not qualify too high,” Gladstone said. “One thing I do know: qualifying that bad on purpose pisses off everybody else. Who’s to say what I could have run all out? I probably could’ve been the No. 2 or 3 qualifier.”

Instead, the shutoff 7.18 from back in Q1 placed him 14th on the grid and set up a first-round match that couldn’t have worked out any better: perennial threat Hector Arana Jr, who qualified No. 3 with a 6.84. Arana cut a .010 light and nearly duplicated his qualifying time with a 6.85 but Gladstone left right with him and, like No. 14 qualifiers never, ever do, outran him with a 6.84.

In the quarterfinals, Gladstone faced Matt Smith Racing team rider Jianna Evaristo, who had never beat him, which, for him, meant just one thing: the end of the line. He produced another .011 light and was well ahead at half-track and still perilously close to beating her at the 1,000-foot mark when politely lifted and fell back with a 7.24 at just 146 mph while she scooted ahead for a winning 6.95/192.

“It’s all good,” Gladstone said. “Qualifying where I did kept Hector away from Matt, and losing to Jianna might help her make the Top 5. I did what I was here to do.”

PSM – ST. LOUIS

At the Midwest Nationals, a race overshadowed by the violent crash of one of Pro Stock Motorcycle racing’s biggest stars, Angie Smith, Cory Reed went rounds for the first time since his triumphant return to the sport. Reed, who, against all odds, happened to be in the lane opposite Smith on that fateful qualifying run, outdrove Kelly Clontz in the opening round of eliminations for his first quarterfinal appearance since his own horrific crash at the 2021 Carolina Nationals.

“This turned out to be a pretty good weekend,” Reed said. “The biggest thing is that the bike is responding now. At the beginning of the year, we went through motor problems and only made a few real passes. This is probably the first good data we’ve gotten all year. We made a few small changes and got in some good laps – finally. We showed that we didn’t forget how to run to 60 feet.”

Reed qualified in the fast half of the field with his finest performance since switching from Vance & Hines to KB Racing power with a solid 6.87 at 195.48 mph backed up by a 6.88 at 195 on his only other attempt. It was on that other attempt when he was horrified to discover that Smith had just crashed behind him. “It was close down there,” he said. “I beat her to the finish line, so I didn’t see it. All of a sudden, I people are out on the track waving at me, and I turn around and she’s not on her bike anymore. It’s grinding down the wall, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh man,’ because I know what that’s like.”

Smith went down hard and was transported to the hospital with a broken arm, two broken feet, and road rash so bad that skin grafts will be required. “On dirt bikes, crashes are just part of it all,” Reed said. “Drag racing? That’s not supposed to happen.” He put it all behind him when eliminations commenced and put away Clontz in a race closer than anyone would have anticipated. They were only two-thousandths of a second a part on the track – 6.818 to 6.820 – but he had her all the way with a much better reaction time, .027 to .055.

Reed was out of it early in the next round opposite reigning world champion Matt Smith, who clocked a 6.75 at top speed of the meet, 203.40 mph, but this weekend was all about Smith’s wife, Angie. “I felt so bad for her on a personal level,” Reed said. “I know what she’s going through and what she’s going to go through – the pain, the sitting around, the thinking it about it all the time, the feeling stupid for crashing, the deciding if you want to even keep doing it… I feel bad for anyone who has to experience that. It sucks. It’s painful, but it’s a mind game, too. Because how’s it gonna be when you come back?”

PSM – CHARLOTTE

Back at the controls of Cory Reed’s Precision Service Equipment Hayabusa exactly two years after Reed’s horrible accident at this same event, Joey Gladstone made his first start since Bristol. “It feels good to be back,” he said at spacious zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. “I haven’t ridden in so long I almost forgot what it feels like. I had a few butterflies at first, but they were gone after one run.”

It wasn’t a good one – had the Saturday forecast not been so dire, Gladstone never would have completed it under power. He spun on the launch, quickly recovered, and rolled back into the throttle for a just-for-the-hell-of-it 7.22 at 192.85 mph to get himself on the board. Though they never came close to approaching their career-best performances of 6.72 and 202.18 mph from last season, Gladstone and team improved on every run thereafter, starting with a 6.97 at 194.21 mph Saturday afternoon in Q2.

“We probably had it turned up a little bit too much for that one,” Gladstone said, “but this one gave us some good data to work with.” He picked up a little more in the final session to a 6.93/194.91 and broke into the .80s Sunday morning in the first round of eliminations with by far his quickest and fastest run of the weekend.

13th on the ladder when he staged for round one, Gladstone was down more than a tenth of a second to 2023 Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Van Sant, who’d just missed the 6.70s in qualifying with an aggregate best of 6.80/198. Van Sant slowed way down and Gladstone made a quantum leap into the 6.80s with his first 195+ mph speed since Chicago, but it wasn’t quite enough in a tough 6.86/196 to 6.89/195 loss.

Still, it was a giant step forward for the Reed team’s new alliance with KB Racing, which is led by the most prolific Pro Stock racer of all time, Greg Anderson, who collected his NHRA record 102nd national event win over the weekend. “We really have a home now at KB Racing,” Reed said. “They’d never had an in-house project like this before and really want to see us succeed. Greg obviously knows how to make horsepower – just look at how his own stuff is coming around now. He’s on the dyno every single day, just constantly, and that can only mean good things for us.”

PSM – MAPLE GROVE

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.”

PSM – INDY

Cory Reed qualified on the bump at the NHRA U.S. Nationals and was out after a single round in his first start in nearly two years, but this time that wasn’t really the point. The only thing that mattered at the most prestigious event in drag racing was that he was back on a bike, back out where he belongs – both he and his teammate, 2022 championship runner-up Joey Gladstone.

The last time NHRA fans saw Reed, he was careening into Gladstone in the shutdown area in the second round of the 2021 Carolina Nationals in easily the most horrifying crash in the 40-year history of Pro Stock Motorcycle racing. “I had to make some 7.50 passes at 175 mph just to get my license back,” he said. “It was a little strange, but I guess it’s all part of the process of coming back. You’d think 175 mph might feel slow, but it didn’t – until we left Indy, everything up to 180 felt fast.”

Still hobbling but dead-set on returning to the quarter-mile, Reed accepted teammate Michael Phillips’ out-of-nowhere offer to run Indy on a two-valve bike. “We saw what Karen [Stoffer] did with the two-valve weight break [at Sonoma, where she ran a 6.79], and we were curious,” he said. “Michael called me one night and said, ‘What do you think? You ready to get back on a bike?’ and I thought, ‘What the hell? Why not?’ “

With the exception of the third session, the Reed/Phillips team showed steady improvement every time down the track, with times of 7.22/187, 7.21/181, 7.36/186, 7.19/185, and a 7.16/188 in last-shot qualifying, Reed’s quickest and fastest run of the long Labor Day weekend. A full four-tenths of a second behind Mr. Everything 2023, Gaige Herrera, who has taken the sport by storm since taking over for Angelle Sampey on the Vance & Hines flagship Suzuki, Reed didn’t expect to beat him in the first round, and he didn’t.

Nobody else would have either. Reed picked up considerably to a 7.09 at 189 mph but was no match for the runaway points leader’s 6.79/198 in a lopsided but ultimately unimportant loss. “I’m just happy to be out here and lucky to be riding Mike’s bike,” he said. “I had zero expectations coming into this weekend – I’m just here to have fun. For Joey and me, it’s just great to be back out here with our racing family.”

PSM – CHICAGO

2022 championship runner-up Joey Gladstone turned in another solid if unspectacular finish at the Route 66 Nationals, getting faster every run all weekend until he didn’t. For the year, this makes three quarterfinal finishes in three starts, good for sixth in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle standings.

Everything Gladstone and every other rider did all weekend paled in comparison to Gaige Herrera, who made three of the four quickest runs in history (6.677, 6.677, and 6.672) and was slower on his worst run than every other rider was on his or her best. Herrera may have made the second-, third-, and fourth-quickest runs ever on consecutive qualifying runs, but Gladstone and the Cory Reed/YNot Racing team put together a competitive pack of runs of their own, improving from a shutoff 6.92/174 in Friday’s lone qualifying session to a 6.83/198 Saturday morning to a 6.77/198 in last-shot qualifying that positioned the team move in the top five.

“We knew we could do it,” said Gladstone, who won three races in six final-round appearances last year. “We were just trying to ease up on it every time. We didn’t want to get too greedy, but we didn’t want to race scared, either.”

In the first round against ol’ pal Ryan Oehler, Gladstone advanced easily on Oehler’s foul start but had him all the way anyway with his best run of the weekend, rocketing off the line with a 1.04 60-foot time and posting a 6.75/198 that brings his all-time first-round win-loss record to a tidy 39-39. “It feels good to be in the time zone as Gaige,” he said. “A 6.75 is no 6.67, I know, but it’s something we can definitely race with.”

Another 6.75 in the second round would have been enough to get Gladstone to his first semifinal appearance of the season, but his 6.781 left him just short of Vance & Hines team rider Eddie Krawiec’s 6.786. It’s not easy to lose on a holeshot with a .015 reaction time, but Krawiec, the many-time national champion, put up a near-perfect .006 and a slightly faster speed, 199.08 mph to 197.54, to hold off Gladstone by a scant four-thousandths of a second.

PSM – CHARLOTTE

Pro Stock Motorcycle star Joey Gladstone navigated the often shark-infested world of four-wide competition at zMax Dragway and came out if victorious at least unscathed. Qualified well into the top half of the field, he advanced to the semifinals only to be denied a final-round appearance by a fraction of a second. “This Four-Wide deal can be tricky,” he said. “The first guy stages and that clock gets going, and you know you’ve only got seven seconds to get in there.”

Riding team owner Cory Reed’s Precision Service Equipment Hayabusa, Gladstone recorded a 6.87 in the first of four qualifying sessions, good for the No. 2 position at the time, improved to a 6.85, and ultimately settled into the No. 6 spot with an aggregate best of 6.82/197.94. “It feels good to be on our own stuff again,” said the 2022 championship runner-up, who spent his off time early this season twirling wrenches for the Greg Anderson/Dallas Glenn Pro Stock team. “I loved working on the Pro Stock car, but I can’t juggle both – Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle run too close together. I really learned a lot working for them, though – stuff I can apply to our program.”

Gladstone unwittingly became embroiled in the weirdest quad of a weird first round that ended with two of the four bikes quietly pushed off the starting line. John Hall got timed out, Jianna Evaristo never left, and Gladstone and dragbike stalwart Steve Johnson posted identical times right down to the thousandth of a second, matching 6.840s. Even that wasn’t close, though: Gladstone managed his emotions, focused his concentration, and left on Johnson by literally a second.

No one was ready when the Tree came down because all four drivers weren’t staged when the timer hit the seven-second mark, but when it flashed green Gladstone was gone long before anybody else let go of the clutch handle. “I saw Steve go in, and those other two were really taking their time,” Gladstone said, “so I just counted to five and put it on the chip.”

With a clutch performance in the semifinals, Gladstone shot off the line with a near-perfect .002 reaction time and narrowly missed making yet another final. Eddie Krawiec was out of reach with a winning 6.78, but Gladstone came painfully close (12-thousandths of a second) to beating Johnson on a 6.86-6.80 holeshot and making another final.

PSM – GAINESVILLE

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 just 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 start. A round later, it was Gladstone who nullified a sure-win with a foul start opposite Angie Smith, who moved on with just a 15.90.

“It’s not like I was trying too hard – I saw yellow,” Gladstone insisted. “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, ‘What the hell? 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 new season. “Not that long ago, a .79 was killer,” Gladstone said. “Now, that’s not enough. Everyone is stepping up. This class just keeps getting tougher and tougher all the time.”

PSM – POMONA 2022

Joey Gladstone and team owner Cory Reed finished the Auto Club Finals just like they wound up the year: number 2. Which is a lot better than they possibly could have imagined when the season began. “If anybody had told me a year ago that we’d be in a battle for the championship right down to the last day of the season … who wouldn’t take that?” he asked. “Matt [Smith] was a shoo-in to win the championship – everybody knew that. He’s been doing this a long time. He’s the best. So just to have a mathematical shot at it on the last day of the season is amazing.”

Gladstone personally knocked Smith out in the semifinals, and in the most gratifying possible manner: on a holeshot. Had he not, he’d have finished third, because the rider best positioned to overtake him for second in the final standings, Matt’s wife Angie, won the event. She edged Gladstone in a tight final-round race, 6.74/199 to 6.73/199, but not before Gladstone had locked up second place by upsetting Matt on a holeshot in the semifinals, where they ran identical e.t.s right to the thousandth of a second, 6.757 to 6.757. “That’s right up there with biggest rounds of my life,” he said. “Beating the world champ? That’s a hard thing to do to.”

Mired at the bottom of the qualifying order after a pair of shut-off efforts Friday, Gladstone wasn’t even in the field going into the final day of qualifying. “The team kept me from being depressed for very long,” he said, “and I really have to thank Vance & Hines for giving us the power to win. Anyone who doesn’t believe they give you everything … I don’t know what to tell you. They do.”

That was evident when Gladstone wheeled Reed’s Diamond W/Fatheadz Suzuki Hayabusa to the No. 3 spot with a career-best 6.72 Saturday morning. He kept his dwindling title hopes alive with a 6.76/198 to 6.97/197 first-round win over Hector Arana Jr., who was infinitely harder to beat than most No. 14 qualifiers. He’d just won the last two races, Dallas and Las Vegas. Three pairs later, Matt Smith put the championship mathematically out of reach with an uneventful 6.77/200 to 7.03/187 first-round decision over drag bike godfather Michael Phillips, who was instrumental in Gladstone and Reed’s success all season.

Maintaining focus and finishing strong, Gladstone defeated national record holder Karen Stoffer in the second round and Smith in the semi’s. “That might have been a little redemption,” said Gladstone, who amassed six final-round appearances, three wins, and a career-best 31-12 win-loss record over the course of the 2022 season. “To have a shot at the championship on the last day of the season was dream come true.”

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