Tag: motorcycle (Page 1 of 2)

PSM – LAS VEGAS 2019

After dropping valves in the second session of Four-Wide Nationals qualifying and more or less levelling the engine, 2016 Rookie of the Year Cory Reed took a quantum leap forward in last-shot qualifying Saturday afternoon with a 6.95 in the thin desert air of Las Vegas that propelled him all the way to the No. 6 spot – higher than he’s qualified since Chicago last June.

“We’ve been thinking we were underpowered, but we’ve been overpowered this whole time,” Reed said. “We toned it down for that last qualifying session and got it down through there for a good run. Just by adding a little timing, the bike picked up three- or four-hundredths [of a second] in the first 60 feet.”

Free to pick any of three of the four lanes for the first round of eliminations and thinking big after an outstanding qualifying performance, Reed seemed better positioned to go rounds than he’s been all year. Instead, he was gone after a single round of eliminations. It certainly wasn’t the best quad he could have hoped for – two of the other three drivers were past world champions (Jerry Savoie and Eddie Krawiec) – but Reed needed only to outrun one of them and No. 14 qualifier Freddie Camarena to advance. He sped across the finish line well ahead of Camarena, as expected, but trailed both Krawiec (6.90) and Savoie (6.94) with a disappointing 7.12.

“That was my fault,” Reed later admitted. “I over-revved 1st gear and ‘double-buttoned’ 2nd, and bam – there goes your whole run. I pulled on Jerry through the middle but ran out of room before the finish line got there. I staged super, super shallow that time, thinking, ‘If I just go green, I can win with another .95,’ but I was thinking too much up there. I had a .046 light – not terrible, but nowhere near what I’m capable of because I had death grip on it as I staged. ” ‘Relax,’ I told myself. But whenever you do that, it’s always right when the tree comes on. I almost short-shifted another gear, but I caught myself and thought, ‘Noooo, don’t do that,’ and ended up hitting the rev-limiter. I just have to get back to what I already know how to do.”

PSM – POMONA 2018

Back on the bike after team boss Cory Reed had to substitute for him in Las Vegas, Joey Gladstone reeled off some of his best runs of the season and ranked among the top drivers deep into qualifying. After ripping off a 6.88 in the second of four sessions for the No. 5 spot on the provisional grid, Gladstone settled into the No. 11 spot on the final ladder with that time and backed it up with a nearly as good 6.90-flat.

Heading into eliminations, Gladstone had a nice stack of E.T. slips to build from: 6.96/193, 6.88/196, another 6.963/193, and a 6.90/193. His first-round opponent turned out to be about as tough as it gets – 2016 Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Jerry Savoie, but Gladstone was only had a few hundredths of a second behind him, 6.83 to 6.88.

Trying to get a jump on Savoie, who has come out on the wrong end of a few holeshot decisions over the years, an overanxious Gladstone jumped the gun by the invisible margin of just 1/50th of a second. His -.023 red-light start invalidated a 7.01 at 192 mph and advanced the always-tough alligator farmer from the bayous of Mississippi, who advanced to the quarterfinals with a run that would have been hard to get around anyway, 6.83. It was a disappointing end to the 2018 season for Gladstone, but with a full-time ride with Team Liberty for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello campaign, there are bigger and better things ahead.

PSM – LAS VEGAS 2017

Cory Reed and Team Liberty’s 2017 season came to an unexpected and abrupt end at the penultimate event of the 16-race NHRA season, the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, where, for the first time all year, Reed failed to qualify for Pro Stock Motorcycle.

After sitting out a couple races to regroup, Reed, who had made the cut at 16 races in a row dating back to Sonoma in June 2016, was off his usual pace at the high-altitude Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, missing the 6-second zone and even the 7.0s. He opened with a 7.173 at 184.04 mph in the first qualifying session Friday afternoon, and picked up slightly to a 7.130/184.80 that evening that wound up being his best run all weekend.

“Changing cams was just too aggressive for what we were trying to do,” said Reed, the 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year. “It just wore out the intake valve springs on the first two runs.” Saturday dawned clear and slightly cooler but the improved conditions weren’t enough to help the weakened engine in Reed’s Team Liberty machine, which fell off to disappointing times of 7.172/182.35 and 7.233/181.59

“This definitely isn’t the way we wanted to end the year, but in that situation, there wasn’t much we could do,” Reed said. “We’ll skip the Finals at Pomona – there’s really no reason to go out there – and be back better than ever next year. We knew it was going to be tough to start a brand-new team from the ground up, and it has been, but we’ve got some big things coming this off-season.”

PSM – READING 2016

Cory Reed’s drag racing career continued its upward trajectory at the Dodge NHRA Nationals, where he reached his first Pro Stock Motorcycle final with a semifinal holeshot on many-time world champ and yearlong points leader Andrew Hines, 6.90 to 6.85.

“I honestly felt like I won the whole race right there,” he said. “I was happy enough to go home then. To win when you know you have the slower bike … that’s just a big accomplishment.”

From qualifying for his very first race to winning a round in his second start, to going rounds at eight of the next nine races, to his clutch semifinal finish at the U.S. Nationals, the last race of the regular season, to two semifinals and now a final-round appearance in his first three races of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Reed is looking more and more like NHRA’s 2016 Rookie of the Year.

“My mom was hoarse for yelling and screaming on the starting line and my dad came up and hugged me and said he was proud of me,” Reed said. “The whole thing was nuts. One run to qualify, and then you’re in the final.”

Persistent on-and-off rain for the first three days at Maple Grove Raceway in the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania reduced qualifying to a nerve-wracking one-shot format. With an off-pace 7.28, Reed’s Star Racing/YNot Buell squeaked into the field in the No. 13 position, the lowest the team has qualified since Sonoma. They took off from there, dispatching surprise No. 4 qualifier Melissa Surber in the first round, 6.86 to 6.90, and 2009 world champ Hector Arana Sr. in the quarterfinals with the first of back-to-back holeshots, 6.91 to 6.89.

After never getting to the semi’s in his young career before the U.S. Nationals, Reed has now advanced that far at three of the past four races. Last week, it was many-time world champ Eddie Krawiec whom he upset in the second round; this week it was Krawiec’s Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson teammate, Hines, whom he beat for yet another career-first, his first final.

Reed faced long odds in that one – Krawiec had run quicker on his worst run all weekend than Reed had ever run in his life – but Reed cut an even better light against Krawiec, .015, than he had against Hines in the semifinals (.019). He was out of it early when Krawiec had an on-time .026 reaction time and drove right by for a 6.81 to 6.95 win.

“I knew before I got up there that Eddie would have to screw up on the Tree – red light or cut an .085 light or something – for me to win,” Reed said. “I knew I still had to have a good light and hit my shift points, and I did. There was nothing I could do, so when I pulled my helmet off down there at the end, I had a smile on my face.”

PSM – ST. LOUIS 2016

Just across the river from downtown St. Louis in Madison, Ill., Rookie of the Year candidate Cory Reed enjoyed his finest outing to date at the AAA Nationals at multipurpose Gateway Motorsports Park.

Reed’s Star Racing/YNot Buell got faster run after run in qualifying kept it up well into eliminations, where he advanced to the semifinals for the second time in his career and the second time in the past three races. At Indy, the last race of the regular season, a clutch semifinal performance catapulted Reed into the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. This time, it helped him climb to a career-high ninth in the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle standings, just ahead of two-time world champ Matt Smith.

“The bike ran good all weekend, until the semi’s,” said Reed, who fell just short of his first final-round appearance when his machine inexplicably slowed a full tenth of a second opposite eventual winner Jerry Savoie. “Something tightened up somewhere – a bearing or the brakes or something was hung up. I could feel it.”

It was a storybook weekend up to that point, with a quicker E.T. showing up on the Gateway scoreboards five times in a row. Reed got things rolling with a 6.951 and a 6.915 on Friday and improved to a 6.910 and a finally a 6.884 that locked up a spot in the fast half of the field for the third time in the past four races.

Reed, who beat L.E. Tonglet in Chicago and lost to him last week in Chicago, put away the former world champ in the opening round with an even quicker 6.873, the second-quickest official run of his career. The bike finally slowed in the quarterfinals, but not nearly enough to cost Reed the round against two-time world champ Eddie Krawiec, the second-ranked rider in the NHRA standings heading into the playoffs and runner-up for the 2015 championship.

“I figured he’d press the Tree,” said Reed of their first head-to-head meeting ever. “Nothing’s ever been said – it was all cordial, all good – but there’s an unspoken beef between the Harley guys and us and I really wanted to cut a teen light on him.” He did, with a .016 reaction time that gave him a two-hundredths advantage going by the Tree, an edge he maintained all the way to the finish line for a 6.921 to 6.925 win, the biggest of his young career.

The rookie was finally toppled in the semifinals, when his bike slipped to a 7.02 – well short of Savoie’s winning 6.92. “Everything else was good early – our 60-foot time and 330-foot times even better than his,” said Reed, who’s now just two points out of eighth place and one round out of seventh. “I have blinders on my helmet, so I can’t really tell if I’m ahead or behind unless the other guy’s way out there, but somewhere before the finish line, I saw him ahead of me. That’s OK. Getting to the semi’s is great. That’s twice now. Now they know we can do it.”

PSM – CHARLOTTE 2016

Cory Reed cut a .002 reaction time in the first round at the Carolina Nationals, but his near-perfect light was completely overshadowed by the magnitude of his announcement following the event: He’s leaving George Bryce’s Star Racing to form his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team, and taking his teammate, 2000-02 NHRA world champ Angelle Sampey, with him.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Reed said of the newest YNot Racing race team, which joins brother Steven and father Jim Whiteley on the YNot Pro Mod team and mom Annie Whiteley, a perennial Top 5 player in the NHRA standings, on the YNot Top Alcohol Funny Car team. “All the details will come out later. Right now, we need to get this motorcycle running good again.”

With a 6.91 at 192.66 mph, Reed qualified No. 12 at zMax Dragway, the first race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. “I had .030 lights both times in the right lane because there’s like a little hill right behind where you’re staging,” he said. “It rolls you forward, and that can mess you up. It happened again when I got the right lane for first round, but I knew it was going to happen and was prepared for it.”

Reed had a .009 reaction time on another qualifying lap and, when it really counted, a telepathic .002 in the first round of eliminations. That wasn’t nearly enough against No. 5 qualifier and former world champ L.E. Tonglet, who rode away from him with for an easy 6.88 to 6.99 win.

“My shift points were good, more consistent than ever, and I rode consistent all weekend, but the bike wouldn’t come to us,” said Reed, who hadn’t been beaten in the first round since Englishtown – seven races ago. “We put a new tire on it, but the 60-foot times never did come around. I’m not sure what the deal is.”

PSM – BRAINERD 2016

At the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., for the fifth time in the last six races, Cory Reed advanced to the quarterfinals. It has him on the brink of the Top 10 with one more race before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin, but Reed was more frustrated at the way he lost than pleased to have advanced that deep in eliminations again.

“I was ahead of him the whole way until the bike didn’t shift,” said Reed of his opponent, reigning Pro Stock Motorcycle national champ Andrew Hines, the most prolific rider in bike history with 45 career event titles. “It made the 1-2 and 2-3 shifts just fine, but it wouldn’t go into 4th gear.”

Reed, who left on Michael Ray in the first round of eliminations with a near-perfect .007 reaction time and pulled away with a career-best 6.83, was out on Hines, too, with a .011. Hines, the eventual winner, got the win with just a 6.89 – almost certainly slower than what Reed would’ve run had his bike just gone into gear.

“This is the first loss all year where I’ve been genuinely pissed off,” Reed said. “I mean, I’m still mad. It sucks that it played out the way it did because I knew I was ahead of him. I knew I got a good light – I could just tell – and it was weird because I could hear him over there and knew he was behind me. I probably hit the button five or six times and just rode it out on the chip for a while, then laid my head down on the tank. The one good thing that came out of all of this is that the bike keeps getting faster and faster.”

Reed opened qualifying with a 6.98 and got only quicker from there, with a 6.92 Friday night in the second qualifying session, a 6.89 Saturday morning, and a 6.88 in last-shot qualifying that slotted him in the No. 7 position on the eliminator ladder, tying the career high he established earlier this season at Norwalk. The 6.83 in the first round was the quickest official run of his career by a full five-hundredths of a second. “We picked up points on some people,” Reed said. “I’m just one round out of the Countdown now, so we have real chance at this with one race left.”

PSM – SONOMA 2016

Cory Reed’s rocket ride to the top of Pro Stock Bike racing took a slight detour at the event he was looking forward to more than any other this year, the Sonoma Nationals, where instead of racing more than a mile above sea-level as he had one week earlier at Denver, he competed at the much lower – and faster – altitude of just 15 feet.

Reed picked up more than three-tenths of a second from Denver, where, for the third race in a row, he advanced to the quarterfinals, but a 6.93 at nearly 190 mph that at the time had him 10th in the field in the end left him a few hundredths of a second short of the fastest field in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle history. The bump was 6.90-flat, and 15 of the 16 were in the 6.80s, where Reed was sure his PSE/Star Racing bike would have been had he gotten his final qualifying shot.

“The little clip that holds all the gears in place popped out,” said Reed, who was shut off behind the line and didn’t even get his last shot at cracking the field – right when the conditions were perfect. “That put it into fifth gear on the burnout, and burned out the gear. It got fused up because it was stuck in fifth.”

Unlike in Denver when all appeared to be lost in a similarly stressful behind-the-line situation and he made it to the line in time to whip Shawn Gann in the first round of eliminations, this time Reed could only watch veteran Steve Johnson disappear into the distance while his bike sat silenced behind the line. “The TPS [throttle-position sensor] was bad, and when you take off and the TPS quits, it kills the transmission. It’s too bad. It was a brand-new transmission. We put one in that already had something wrong with it – that was the crappy part. We felt like there was no way we wouldn’t qualify, and then that happened.”

It was a bitter pill to swallow after pretty much doing better every time out this year. “I was starting to get used to it,” Reed said. “We were trying some new stuff Friday because we knew we had two shots Saturday if it didn’t work. We thought we were good.” There’s still time for a charge into the Top 10 and even a shot at the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Though the NHRA season is two-thirds of the way over, the Pro Stock Motorcycles are barely halfway through, and they’ll be at every race until the end of the season.

PSM – DENVER 2016

Cory Reed’s Pro Stock Motorcycle career continued its upward spiral at his “home” track, Bandimere Speedway, the one-of-a-kind facility carved into the side of the easternmost ridge of the Rocky Mountains just outside Denver. Qualified 9th of more than 20 riders, Reed reached the quarterfinals for the third time in a row – somehow.

“I started doing my burnout and thought, ‘Hey that’s a lot of smoke. That’s kinda weird,’ ” Reed said of his first-round matchup with veteran Shawn Gann. “The next thing I know, there’s fire right underneath my handlebars. The main power line shorted out, and I thought ‘I’m done for sure. There’s no way, I know it.’ They tried one last time, and just as the starter was about to turn around and shut me off, it worked.”

Granted the last-second reprieve, Reed made the most of it, getting the jump on Gann by a full three-hundredths of a second and driving away for a 7.23 to 7.27 win. The 7.23 was the fifth-quickest run of the round, the highest Reed has ranked in any elimination round or qualifying session in his brief seven-race career. “I can’t believe Shawn waited that long – that was cool of him,” Reed said. “I thanked him four or five times. I seriously thought it was all over right there.”

It really was over in the quarterfinals when one of the throttle blades broke and closed. Reed had just gotten off the starting line side by side with eventual winner Andrew Hines, who also spent his high school years in Colorado, in Trinidad, but the race was over before the 100-foot mark when his bike started sputtering and slowed. “I just shut it off,” Reed said. “He kinda got lucky. He ran a .23, and I was about to run a .20.”

Still, it was another successful weekend for the PSE/Star Racing team, which maintained its place just outside the Top 10 in the championship standings, ahead of former national event champions Hector Arana Jr., Michael Phillips, and Gann. “I’m don’t want to sound overconfident, but I honestly think it’s feasible to be in the Top 10 by Indy,” Reed said. “Other people are starting to struggle, and we’re moving up. [Star Racing team owner George Bryce] can bounce the tune-ups from my bike and [teammate] Angelle Sampey]’s bike off each other. It helps us both. Her bike keeps going faster and faster, and that means my mine’s going to, too.”

PSM – CHICAGO 2016

Another race, another career highlight for Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie Cory Reed.

At the Route 66 Nationals in Chicago, the 22-year-old phenom from Grand Junction, Colo., qualified strong, took down 2010 NHRA world champ LE Tonglet in the first round of eliminations, and did it on a holeshot. Tonglet made one of the quickest runs of the entire event, a 6.86, but Reed dipped into the 6.80s too, and drilled him on the Tree by a half-tenth for his biggest round-win to date.

“We both staged at the exact same time, which makes it hard for both of you,” Reed said. “It threw me off, but it threw him off big time. I didn’t think I left on him – thought I was just running better in 60 feet. I have a lot of respect for LE. I figured he’d leave the same as me. Beating somebody like him, who’s good on the lights and has won a championship, was awesome – especially on a holeshot.”

Tied with veteran Scotty Pollacheck for 14th place in the national standings, just two rounds (41 points) out of the prestigious Top 10, Reed faced PSE teammate and eventual runner-up Angelle Sampey in the quarterfinals. He was off like a shot with a near-perfect .006 reaction time, and it was another 6.86-6.88 race, but the three-time world champ cut a great .015 light of her own to advance by just 11-thousandths of a second.

“That was the coolest race ever,” Reed said. “Angelle looked over at me as we were pulling off the track, kinda like, ‘I don’t know,’ and I was thinking the same thing. She said, ‘I thought you had me.’ She has blinders on her helmet, so she doesn’t have much peripheral vision.”

Even if she did, Sampey still might not have known who got there first. Sampey, who broke through earlier this season in Englishtown, N.J., for her first major victory in eight years, crossed the stripe about three feet of ahead of Reed with a slightly faster top-end speed, 193 mph to 192.

“It was still a great race,” Reed said. “It was one step further, and if we keep taking steps every time out like this, I definitely think I can win at least one race by the end of the year.”

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