PSM – INDY 2016

In the final event of the 10-race regular season, in the best race of his young drag racing career, Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie Cory Reed catapulted over three other riders to move from 13th place into the Top 10 and into championship contention.

Reed qualified in the fast half of the field yet again and drew 10th-ranked Steve Johnson in a titanic head-to-head first-round matchup that meant the end of a potential title run for the loser. Reed was off the line like a shot with a .027 reaction time and drove away from Johnson, 6.93 to 7.06, and just like that, he was on the doorstep of the Countdown.

“I knew what I had to do before we ever got here: go one round further than Michael Ray, Karen Stoffer, and Steve Johnson,” Reed said. “I figured if we got to the semi’s I was in, but it turned out that I just had to get to the second round because everybody else lost first round. I watched Ray lose [to eventual runner-up Hector Arana Jr.] right in front of me, so that was one. I was running Johnson, so if I won he was automatically out. So then I just needed Karen to lose.”

She accommodated him with a loss to perennial championship contender Eddie Krawiec, 6.83 to 6.89 – but first Reed had to get around the wily Johnson, who has more starts than anyone in NHRA bike history. “Steve’s always been nice to me,” Reed said, “but I thought he’d try to play a game on the line – that’s his style – but he didn’t roll it back out of the beams or try anything.”

Reed had the lead from start to finish, and by the time he returned to the PSE/Star Racing pits, he was in the Countdown. “What I didn’t get was why nobody else seemed to know it,” he said. “I won first round, they all lost – I knew I was in.”

To put an exclamation point on the accomplishment, Reed, who had reached the quarterfinals at five of the past six races, took it one step further with a first career semifinal finish, topping teammate Angelle Sampey, who fouled away a 6.92. Reed’s .013 reaction time and quicker 6.88 meant that he actually got to the finish line first anyway.

In the semi’s, Reed fouled by the narrowest possible margin – one-thousandth of a second – against Arana, but by then the war had already been won: he was in the Countdown to the Championship. Now instead of trailing the points leader by an insurmountable 596 rounds, Reed finds himself just 110 points out of the lead because of the controversial Countdown format, which erases the points racers have accumulated all season and separates everyone in the Top 10 by just 10 points per position.

Now, anything can happen. “I really think making the Top 5 is a realistic goal, but I’m a racer – I want to win the championship,” he said. “We’re almost as fast as the Harleys now – maybe the next-fastest ones after them – and I do a little better with pressure, so we’ll see what happens. I definitely want to win at least one race.”


The 2015 U.S. Nationals represented a huge step forward for the entire YNot Racing/J&A Service team. Not only did Annie Whiteley runner-up in Top Alcohol Funny Car and Joey Severance win Top Alcohol Dragster, but Pro Mod drivers Jim and Steve Whiteley turned in some of their finest performances of the season.

To qualify for the quickest field in the history of the J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod series (5.94 bump), Jim ripped off a 5.92 for the No. 15 spot. Steven did even better, making his best run all year and qualifying No. 7 with an outstanding 5.882 – one-thousandth of a second quicker than his 5.883 last year at Englishtown. “It’s been a long time and a lot of work by this whole team, but I think our program is really turning around now,” said Steven, whose car was on rails throughout qualifying. After back-to-back 5.92s at 245 mph in the first two sessions, he wheeled his ’14 CTS-V to a 5.89 at 246 and picked up even further to a 5.88 at 247 in Sunday’s last-shot session.

Jim got his ’69 Chevelle on the provisional grid with an off-the-trailer 6-flat, spun on the next qualifying run and slipped to a 6.06 on the next one, but he came through with a clutch 5.92 at 244 in last-ditch qualifying to crack the final lineup. With more than twice as many cars (33) in attendance as there were spots in the 16-car field, everyone knew that making the cut would be a major accomplishment, but no one could have predicted that a record bump would be established in such hot and humid conditions. Former series champion Mike Castellana, past Indy winner Jim Bell, and incoming points leader Bob Rahaim all failed to qualify.

Steven’s weekend came to an abrupt end when he ran into tire shake in the first round against nemesis “Tricky Rickie” Smith, the defending NHRA Pro Mod champ. Jim whipped No. 2 qualifier Sidnei Frigo, the former Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Fuel driver, in their first-round matchup, drilling the Brazilian on the Tree and driving away from him for a 5.96 to 5.97 victory. He then strapped a holeshot on Smith Monday in round two but ran into trouble downtrack and fell to Smith’s subpar 6.08.

Just three races remain on the 2015 J&A Service NHRA Pro Mod tour – Charlotte and St. Louis on back-to-back weekends later this month, and Las Vegas Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

TAFC – INDY 2015

At the NHRA U.S. Nationals, the most prestigious event in drag racing, YNot Racing/J&A Service driver Annie Whiteley padded her already commanding lead in the Top Alcohol Funny Car standings with her sixth final-round appearance already this season.

“The car ran good all weekend, but not quite good enough in the final,” said Whiteley, who appeared in the Indy final for the second time in three years. Whiteley, who won national events in Seattle and Las Vegas and regional events in Vegas and Woodburn earlier this season, came out on the wrong end of a close final-round match with Andy Bohl, 5.62 to 5.63.

The incoming points leader’s road to the final began with a solid 5.65 in Friday’s first qualifying session. She opened eliminations from the No. 6 qualifying spot with an impressive 5.57 in last-shot qualifying Sunday morning and ran at least in the low 5.60s at well over 260 mph on seven of eight runs over the long Labor Day weekend.

In the first round of eliminations late Sunday afternoon, Whiteley dispatched four-time national event champ Dan Pomponio with a good light and a smooth, trouble-free 5.60, one of the best e.t.s of the round. Monday in round two, her consistent 5.66 knocked off Mike Doushgounian, who was at the wheel of the same car Frank Manzo drove opposite her in the 2013 Indy final. Reigning Top Alcohol Funny Car world champ Steve Harker was the next to go. After laying down the only run in the 5.50s all day Monday to win round two, he slowed to an 8.53 in the semi’s while Whiteley sailed to a winning 5.64. She picked up to a 5.63 in the final, but Bohl also found a hundredth for a close 5.62-5.63 win.

“Nobody likes to lose, but I’m happier to have been in the final round than I am disappointed that I didn’t win it,” Whiteley said philosophically. “The best part is, this was a great weekend for points.” With another runner-up finish and the season rapidly winding down, her lead has ballooned to more than 100 points over second-place Jonnie Lindberg.

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