Tag: four-wide


Joey Gladstone returned to the site of the most unforgettable race of his career – the out-and-out worst one ever and at the same time the absolute best: the 2021 Carolina Nationals, where his best friend, team owner Cory Reed, crashed right in front of him in round two and then a freak mechanical glitch in the final ripped away an in-the-bag first major victory.

Riding the crest of a season-long wave of success, Gladstone landed in a second consecutive Charlotte final – sort of. He was there for the last round, the third Pro Stock Motorcycle quad of the day, but at the Four-Wide Nationals the third- and fourth-place finishers are considered semifinalists. Still, it was a fantastic weekend, yet another late-round finish that catapulted him to fourth in the NHRA standings, the highest he’s ever been this deep into a season.

“I’m living my dream,” said Gladstone, who reached the semi’s at the season-opening Gatornationals and the quarterfinals in Houston. “I can’t express how proud I am of my team.” Led by Reed and longtime crew chief Cecil Towner, Gladstone made his best qualifying run all weekend right off the bat, a 6.80/198, followed by a 6.86/197 under better conditions Friday night and a 6.88/199 and 6.82/197 on Saturday.

Sunday in the first round, Gladstone edged reigning NHRA world champ Matt Smith, 6.84/200 to 6.86/198, to finish second behind Angelle Sampey’s outstanding 6.76/199. (Under the four-wide format, the top two in each “quad” of four bikes advance.) With a 13.43 at 45 mph, Kelly Clontz finished a distant fourth.

In the semi’s, in one of the more memorable moments of his entire career, Gladstone lined up against three former world champions and whipped all three – Eddie Krawiec, Sampey, and Jerry Savoie – with a 6.81/198. He outran Krawiec, beat Sampey on a holeshot, and Savoie, who was quicker than any of them with 6.78/199, red-lighted.

“That’s three gangsters in the other three lanes,” Gladstone said. “Last year, I really got my heart ripped out in the final, and this year I’m going to ride my heart out.” He did, drilling winner Krawiec and winner Steve Johnson with a .037 reaction time, but slipped to his worst run of the long weekend, a 6.90/199 that left him well short of Johnson’s winning 6.74/200.

“A four-wide isn’t like a regular final,” he said. “You know in the back of your mind the whole time what your odds are. Instead of having to beat one guy, you’ve got to beat three, so the pressure’s not the same. We may have slowed down and finished fourth, but I’ll take it. That first win is coming.”


Steven Whiteley was riding high coming into Charlotte for the Four-Wide Nationals, a Top 5 driver in the standings and one of the odds-on favorites to win the race. Three days later he pulled out of ZMax Dragway a non-qualifier, clearly aggravated and dead set on turning things around after his first first-round loss all year.

Friday was a complete disaster for the young driver, one of the more consistent qualifiers on the J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod circuit year after year. Rain and 41-mph winds killed one qualifying session, and he was timed out on the line in the other one. After a shake-plagued shutoff blast Saturday morning, things weren’t looking good for the YNot team heading into last-shot qualifying, but as it has many times before, they came through under pressure with a 5.78 at nearly 253 mph to make the show.

Anything close to that Sunday morning in the first round and Whiteley would’ve been in the semifinals because only one car in his quad made it to the finish line under power. Whiteley was second off the line, trailing only Sidnei Frigo’s telepathic .015 reaction time with an outstanding .033, and they all crossed the finish line in the inverse order of how they left the starting line. Rickie Smith cut just a .090 light but laid down a 5.77 to finish first, and Chad Green’s 8.27 at 120 mph was enough to advance, literally hundreds of feet ahead of Whiteley’s aborted 10.19 at 87 mph and Frigo’s distant 13.95 at 47 mph. In one of the more unusual heats in the anything-but-orderly history of four-wide competition, nobody was within two seconds or 30 mph of anyone else.


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.”

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