Tag: joey (Page 1 of 4)

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 – DALLAS

Cory Reed’s Precision Service Equipment Pro Stock Motorcycle team was all over the place at the Texas FallNationals, with three different riders on three different bikes on two different teams: Cory aboard Michael Phillips’ two-valve machine, teammate Joey Gladstone on recently sidelined Angie Smith’s Buell, and returning veteran Blaine Hale on the Suzuki usually ridden by Gladstone.

All three qualified for the field, and Gladstone made it all the way to the semifinals before bowing out to many-time world champion Eddie Krawiec, who made his first run ever in the 6.60s, a 6.69, to beat him. Hale, who won the Mile-High Nationals in Denver 20 years ago from the No. 16 qualifying spot, was on the bump again here, but facing the dominant Gaige Herrera in round one, there’d be no miracle finish this time.

“We just want to see what our stuff can do,” said Reed, whose team won three races and wound up second in the final standings last year with Gladstone on the bike. “You have a good year like we did and don’t do much early the next year and all of a sudden everybody thinks you don’t know what you’re doing. People in the pits … they’re definitely going to doubt you. They’re going to talk. But we’ve been making good progress for a while now. Can we outrun Gaige? Not necessarily. But we’re a lot faster than what we’ve shown.”

As for Reed himself, he was Krawiec’s first victim, dropping a first-round match when Krawiec’s mighty Vance & Hines team was, for once, actually vulnerable with just a 6.85. Reed, who spun off the line on his first qualifying run and posted a perfect .000 reaction time on his second, drilled Krawiec on the Tree with a clutch .028 light but slowed to a troubled 7.13 at only 167 mph for the loss.

“Mike really wants to see if we can make this two-valve deal a little faster at the next few races,” Reed said. “I’m only 140 pounds right now. By next year, I won’t be able to make the two-valve weight break anymore. 570 pounds with me on it? It’s crazy that we could even think about doing something like this.”

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 – BRISTOL

You know it hasn’t been a great weekend when your bike gets picked up by the wheelie bars and walked off the starting line three times in a row.

For Joey Gladstone, the second-ranked Pro Stock Motorcycle rider of 2022, the Thunder Valley Nationals undoubtedly was the low point of what’s been an up-and-down early 2023. He’s yet to reach the semifinals but made it to the quarterfinals every time – until now.

Following a ho-hum off-the-trailer 6.94, Cory Reed’s YNot Racing Suzuki lurched off the line that night in the second qualifying session and did the same Saturday morning in Q3. In the fourth and final session that afternoon, Gladstone didn’t even make it that far – he never took the Tree. Actually, he didn’t make it through the burnout. The coil wire came off, silencing the engine.

Gladstone, who scored three times last year in by far the best season of his burgeoning career, raced eventual winner Steve Johnson, the only driver to beat second-year sensation Gaige Herrera all year, in the first round. At the time, Johnson seemed like a decent draw: Gladstone had been mired in the bottom half of the field at the season-opening Gatornationals, too, but he put Johnson away when the veteran rider, perhaps intimidated by Gladstone’s well-known starting-line reflexes, threw it away with an untimely red-light start.

Not this time. Gladstone was more or less on time with a .052 light, good for an early lead over Johnson’s mediocre .077, and made his quickest run of the weekend, a 6.93 at 192.71 mph. But Johnson ate into his lead with every push-button shift of the 5-speed transmission and drove around him at the 700-foot mark, crossing the stripe first by about 10 feet with an 8.88/193. “Well, that sucked,” Gladstone said. “If I’d had my normal reaction time, I could’ve beat him on a holeshot.”

“We really thought we had it fixed,” Reed said. “We put the old tire back on it and thought we were good. Today was just frustrating – the whole year has been.”

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.”

PSM – DALLAS 2022

It could’ve been worse – a lot worse. Joey Gladstone red-lighted in the second round of the NHRA Fall Nationals, a potentially disastrous development made much less egregious when the only rider ahead of him in the standings, Matt Smith, drifted toward the centerline and had to lift in the following round, mitigating the damage.

Coasting across the finish with a speed (26.19) nearly the same as your E.T. (20.82) is no is no way to open qualifying, especially in a 20-bike field, but Gladstone made marked improvement from that 20-second throwaway to the 6.90s to the 6.80s, to, in last-shot qualifying, the promised land: the 6.70s.

Only three Pro Stock Motorcycle riders qualified between 6.73 and 6.80, and all three ran not just 6.79s but identical 6.793s that had to be separated on the basis of their speeds. At an even 200.00 mph, Gladstone was right in the middle, No. 4 behind Angie Smith’s 200.96 and ahead of Steve Johnson’s 199.80.

Gladstone, who’s won Sonoma, Topeka, and Reading already this season, drew theoretically the easiest first-round opponent on the ladder – Richard Gadson, who qualified 13th in his NHRA debut. Gadson actually had a slight early lead but eventually had to get out of it after his bike, like many on gray, blustery afternoon, strayed out of the groove toward the wall, allowing Gladstone to drive around him for an easy 6.85/197 win.

“I didn’t take him lightly,” assured Gladstone, who’s reached at least the semifinals in two-thirds of his starts this season. “This may be his first national event, but he’s a phenomenal racer. It takes time. He’s going to have a great career out here, trust me.”

For just the third time in 2022, Gladstone fell in the second round, this time to a self-inflicted wound, a red-light start. It was the perfect time to do it: even with a .000 reaction time, his 6.86/197 wouldn’t have held off resurgent Steve Johnson’s superior 6.77/195. “I apologize to my team and sponsors,” he said, “but I wasn’t going to do anything with that .77 anyway.”

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