Tag: pro stock motorcycle (Page 1 of 2)

PSM – MAPLE GROVE

Righting a ship that seemed adrift just two weeks ago at the U.S. Nationals, Joey Gladstone rode Cory Reed’s Diamond W/Fatheadz Hayabusa to victory in the first race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, the Pep Boys Nationals. Qualified smack in the middle of the pack – No. 8 – he roared to life in eliminations, beating incoming points leader Matt Smith in the quarterfinals in perhaps the biggest single round of his entire career.

“This is awesome,” Gladstone said, clearly in disbelief after his third win in four races – his first three wins ever. “It’s still hard to believe it’s really happening.”

“Pure happiness,” exclaimed Reed, now almost fully recovered from his devastating accident last September in Charlotte. “Having so many people root for us … it’s a dream come true.”

Gladstone, who entered the Countdown in second place, an even 20 points behind Smith, opened with a decent 6.81/198 in Friday night qualifying, slowed to a mediocre 6.83/197 early Saturday afternoon, then powered to a 6.79/199 in last-shot qualifying to move back into the fast half of the field – barely. Waiting for him was Hector Arana Jr., a 15-time national event winner whose career has been marred by red-light starts and who took himself out with another one in the first round.

Smith, the five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion who passed Gladstone for the points lead with his Indy win and qualified No. 1 here, loomed in a titanic second-round showdown. For a crucial win that surely will be looked back on as the turning point if Gladstone eventually wins the title, he got Smith at the line and outran him in an instant classic, 6.815 to 6.818.

“I thought I saw the win-light,” he said, “but then I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Did I really see it?’ I wasn’t sure until they were pointing at me as I rolled around the corner. I’d never beaten Matt on his V-Twin. He’s a great competitor, one of my idols, and getting him out of here early was huge.”

In the semifinals, Gladstone came from behind for a 6.86/196 to 6.92/195 win over upstart Marc Ingwersen, who’d taken out Angelle Sampey on a huge holeshot, then faced Angie Smith, who had the full might of Matt Smith Racing behind her, in the final. That one was over immediately when she went red, but he had her all the way with a clutch .012 reaction time and a better run, 6.83/196 to 6.86/198.

“To win, you really have to learn how to tune these things on Sundays,” said Gladstone, now the top-ranked rider in Pro Stock Motorcycle. “Eliminations is not the same thing as qualifying, and, as we learned at Indy, what works at one track doesn’t work at the next one.”

PSM – TOPEKA

It’s not a matter of potential anymore, of what might happen one day. It’s happening. Joey Gladstone is the number one rider in Pro Stock Motorcycle – ahead of Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, Angelle Sampey, ahead of everybody.

After back-to-back runner-up finishes put Gladstone on the precipice of that milestone first victory, his Cory Reed Motorsports team has delivered back-to-back wins, including a positively dominant performance at Heartland Park Topeka. It truly was the most commanding win possible: low E.T. of every qualifying session, low E.T. of all four rounds of eliminations. His fifth-best run of the weekend would’ve been low E.T. of the meet.

“I hope this wave never crashes,” Gladstone said. “I’ve been waiting for something like this my whole life, and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.” It’s lasted for four races so far – runner-ups in Norwalk and Denver and now back-to-back wins in Sonoma and Topeka. “It’s been a gradual thing, really. We’ve been under the radar; it’s just becoming apparent to other people now.”

Launched by a killer 1.04 60-foot time, Gladstone began the weekend with a 6.831 at 195.08 mph, good for the No. 1 qualifying spot by half a tenth and his first track record. Three bonus points for being quickest of the session moved him to within a single point of the number 1 spot in the standings, and after he was quicker than everybody again Saturday afternoon in Q2 (6.84/196), he had his first-ever points lead.

Opposite overmatched David Barron in the first round, Gladstone left first by a tenth and a half and streaked to 6.83/197 on his Diamond W-backed Suzuki Hayabusa, just missing another track record in a runaway win. On the second-round bye he earned for being the No. 1 qualifier in a 14-bike field, he had the entire field covered with a 6.85/196. Angie Smith provided little opposition in the semi’s with an off-pace 7.08/195, and Gladstone easily advanced to his fourth consecutive final with a 6.87/196.

Waiting for him was his mentor and friend, four-time world champ Eddie Krawiec, the same driver he beat for the breakthrough win in Sonoma three weeks ago. Krawiec was right on time with a .022 light but Gladstone had him all the way with a clutch .009 and a seventh straight run in the 6.80s, 6.87/195.

“I always wondered if it would feel like this,” Gladstone said. “It’s like I’m dreaming. Now, I know the bike will perform in good conditions, bad conditions, hot, cold – anything. It was perfect every lap. This has been a long time coming, and there’s a different kind of pressure on us now – the pressure to get that first win is gone. Now, our expectations are a lot higher.”

PSM – SONOMA

At long last, overdue rider Joey Gladstone and team owner Cory Reed realized their ultimate dream at Sonoma, the fastest track on the circuit: victory at an NHRA national event. For Reed, who switched from motocross seven years ago, and Gladstone, who’s been drag racing all his life, it was the culmination of years of struggle and countless hours of backbreaking work. “It’s about time,” joked Reed, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, whose team had finished second at the past two races, Norwalk and Denver.

“I still can’t believe this is real,” said Gladstone, whose recent hot streak catapulted him to second in the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings, just two points out of the lead. “I’ve dedicated my life to this sport. Winning a race like this has been my goal since I was a little kid getting made fun of for being so small. The day I saw Angelle [Sampey], I knew what I wanted to do.”

Delivering on the promise shown in three previous final-round appearances this season (including the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte), Gladstone made the quickest run of his career (6.75) Saturday afternoon in last-shot qualifying for the No. 3 spot, then ran at least that quick in all four rounds Sunday. After a brief scare in the first round when his bike refused to do a burnout opposite overmatched Jianna Evaristo, Gladstone reset his all-time-best with a blistering 6.74, then dumped Katie Sullivan in round two with an even quicker 6.73 at his fastest speed ever, 202.18 mph.

When his Diamond W Suzuki Hayabusa brushed aside Bristol winner Jerry Savoie in the semifinals, 6.75 to 6.84, only one thing stood between Gladstone and his first major title: longtime nemesis Eddie Krawiec. “I’m gonna bring everything I have in this final,” he said as he climbed off the bike in the semi’s, trying not think about how close he was – again. “I was ready to go 20 minutes before they called us up there for the final,” he admitted later. “I was like, ‘Come on, let’s do this. Let’s get it over with. Don’t overthink it. Cut a light, but not too close – don’t throw it away on a red-light. Give yourself a chance.’ “

With a .026 reaction time, he did, gaining the only edge he’d need because both he and Krawiec made the exact same run, matching 6.75s. “I heard him over there the whole time and knew I was ahead, but I never let myself think it,” said Gladstone, who won on a holeshot, 6.759 to 6.758. “Not after what happened at Charlotte [last fall, when the kill switch became disconnected in high gear as he looked on in horror.]”

“It seemed like it took 30 seconds for the finish line to get there,” he said. “I almost didn’t want to look for the win-light. Going to all these finals and losing, you wonder in the back of your mind if it’s really meant to be. We may not have won them, but just from being in those other finals, I knew we could do it. I’m never going to forget this, and it’s just the start.”

PSM – DALLAS 2020

Fresh off a quarterfinal finish at the U.S. Nationals in his first start in exactly a year, Cory Reed kept going rounds at the Fall Nationals in Dallas, and that didn’t end up being the high point of the weekend for Team Liberty – far from it, actually. Teammate Joey Gladstone, racing for the first time all year, went all the way to the final for the first time in his career.

Reed came off the trailer Saturday morning with a competitive 6.92 at 194 mph and backed it up with an almost identical 6.92/195 in the only other qualifying session, eventually settling into the No. 11 spot on the eliminator ladder. Gladstone was even better, anchoring the fast half of the 16-bike field with a 6.89/195 on his only attempt.

Both drivers sailed through the first round of eliminations against heavily favored opponents, Gladstone with a winning 6.98/190 when Hector Arana Jr. red-lighted by eight-thousandths of a second and Reed with a 6.96/193 over U.S. Nationals winner and national championship contender Scotty Pollacheck’s bogging 7.00/197 in a race decided by 1/500th of a second.

In the quarterfinals, Gladstone stopped cagey veteran Michael Phillips, who had upset incoming points leader Matt Smith in the first round, with a steady 6.97/191 opposite Phillips’ slowing 9.77. One pair later, Reed, who long ago established himself as one of the better leavers in Pro Stock Motorcycle, lost on a holeshot to eventual winner Jerry Savoie, 6.97/189 to his slightly quicker 6.96/193. After a semifinal upset of 2000-01-02 world champ Angelle Sampey, who threw away what would have been a winning 6.89/195 on a red-light start, Gladstone, with nothing to lose, lined up against former world champ Jerry Savoie in the final.

The Team Liberty bike made its worst run all weekend, a 7-flat at 192 mph, and Savoie, in a Dallas final for the sixth straight year, scored with a 6.91/191, bringing to an end the finest day of Gladstone’s career. “This is pretty unbelievable,” the young rider said of his first final-round appearance in NHRA competition. “[Engine builder/crew chief] Cecil [Towner] did a great job tuning. Everybody on the team did a good job, and we’re all having a good time. I really think that’s what’s led to this success. I’m still in disbelief – we weren’t even sure we were going to come here – but in drag racing, I guess when it’s your day, it’s your day.”

PSM – RICHMOND 2019

YNot/PSE teammates Cory Reed and Joey Gladstone just missed a highly anticipated head-to-head second-round showdown at the Virginia Nationals when Reed was unceremoniously dumped by Hector Arana Jr. in the first round of eliminations. Gladstone put away 2009 NHRA champion Hector Arana Sr. in another first-round match, so another Arana-Arana matchup in the quarterfinals never materialized, either.

Reed assumed the early qualifying lead with a straight-down-the-groove 6.969 at 192 mph off the trailer. He slowed to a 7.13/188 Friday evening, improved incrementally to a 6.962 at just short of 194 mph Saturday in Q3 that left him smack in the middle of the pack, and entered eliminations mired in the No. 14 position after a dispiriting 7.02/191 Saturday afternoon.

Pitted against Las Vegas winner Arana Jr., who now stands third in the 2019 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle standings, Reed managed just a 7.10 187 mph – two-tenths of a second and 10 mph off what he’s capable of, in a discouraging loss to the perennial title contender’s 6.90-flat at 197 mph minutes after Gladstone had dispatched Arana Sr. with what surprisingly was technically the first holeshot win of his NHRA career. “I’ve left on a lot of people and have this reputation for being really good on the lights,” said Gladstone, who whipped the senior Arana’s 6.97/194 with a slower won 7.00/191, “but that’s the first time I’ve ever actually won on a holeshot.”

PSM – CHARLOTTE 2019

At the Four-Wide Nationals, which racers in every pro category seem to loathe but absolutely fans love, Cory Reed turned in his strongest performance of the 2019 season. The former NHRA Rookie of the Year started off well and got only tougher from there, advancing to the semifinals in easily his finest performance since he landed in his first career final the at the Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway late in his 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign.

When absurd 40+ mph winds turned two scheduled qualifying attempts Friday at palatial zMax Dragway into a single session, Reed’s YNot/PSE team clocked an off-the-trailer 6.93 at 192 mph that positioned them in the No. 2 spot at the time. Running in the last of five quads with all the top dogs Saturday in Q2/Q3, Reed stepped way up to a 6.84 at 197.28 mph that propelled him into the upper reaches of the Pro Stock Motorcycle stratosphere. Granted one last crack at the track, Reed’s team showed that the 6.84/197 was for real with a consistent 6.89/196 and entered eliminations smack in the middle of the pack.

In the first round, stuck in the middle of theoretically the toughest quad – 1/8/9/16 – Reed advanced, finishing second of the four with a 6.88/195 that trailed No. 1 qualifier Karen Stoffer’s 6.81/197 but was more than enough to top second-generation driver Jim Underdahl’s 6.93 and former YNot teammate Angelle Sampey’s out-of-the-groove 7.13/151. In the semifinals, Reed left with the other three and outran No. 1 qualifier Karen Stoffer’s 6.95 but his right-there 6.91 wasn’t quite enough to deal with eventual runner-up Eddie Krawiec’s 6.85 or upstart Ryan Oehler’s 6.89. “.040 lights – that’s not gonna cut it,” Reed said. “I can do way better than that. I have and I will – to win, I’ll have to.”

PSM – ST. LOUIS 2018

Seemingly outgunned against the top-ranked rider in Pro Stock Motorcycle all year, reigning NHRA world champ Eddie Krawiec, Joey Gladstone upset his heavily favored opponent, who handed over a first-round win with the most aggravating red-light of all, a -.001. “I was squatting behind the beams,” said Gladstone’s boss, Team Liberty leader Cory Reed. “They left, and I never even noticed the red-light in Eddie’s lane. I watched them go down the track and thought, ‘Dammit, we lost,’ and then somebody yelled, ‘Wait, he red-lighted!’ ”

Gladstone was outqualified by his much more accomplished foe by a full nine spots – No. 4 to No. 13 – but those numbers are somewhat misleading. Gladstone actually was right there alongside Krawiec in the 6.80s, 6.82 to 6.89, and the same numbers flashed on the scoreboards when they raced – 6.82 for Krawiec and 6.89 for Gladstone – but the win-light shone on Gladstone’s side of the track. “The bike is running better now than it would be if I was on it because of Joey’s weight – 135 pounds,” Reed said. “I weigh 150. In this class, that makes me a fat guy. It’s funny, the different emotions you feel watching someone else riding your bike, but it doesn’t bother me that much. It’s all about taking the next step, ’cause I’m tired of getting my ass kicked.

“Joey keeps making good passes,” Reed said, “and we keep learning more than we ever would if I was on there – the way the clutch works, way the tire hits, the way the wheelie bar works … when Joey’s on there, the weight transfer is what it’s supposed to be. When I’m on there, everything’s all wrong – it works right one time and doesn’t the next, and we never know why. When we get the new bike, it’ll be like 40 pounds lighter and we’ll be able to move weight around and have everything exactly the way we want it.”

PSM – BRAINERD 2018

There’s no getting around it – the Lucas Oil Nationals was a major disappointment for Cory Reed, probably the low point of the former NHRA Rookie of the Year’s young career. Seventeenth is nowhere to be in a 16-bike field – especially when only 18 teams show up.

“I think our motors were hurt when we got here,” Reed said. “Every run, it felt like the bike wasn’t going anywhere.” It wasn’t. Reed, who has run well down into the 6.80s and was getting used to going rounds in eliminations against even the biggest stars of Pro Stock Motorcycle, fell flat with a 7.14 at just 185 mph Friday afternoon, skipped the Friday night session, and missed the all-6-second field Saturday afternoon with back-to-back 7.0s at 191 mph.

With an aggregate best of 7.040/191.35, Team Liberty fell short of the 6.99 bump spot by a half-tenth. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” Reed insisted. “We’ve made progress. We’ve learned things. Ever since Charlotte or Atlanta, it’s looked like we’ve been moving backwards and I guess to a lot of people we have, but a lot of the moves we’ve made have taught us what not to do. And they won’t happen again. I’m OK with everything. It’s not showing up on the race track, I know, but we’re making progress.”

PSM – INDY 2017

Forced to sit out qualifying sessions at the biggest race of the year for fear of destroying the only engine he had left, second-year pro Cory Reed hung on to make the U.S. Nationals Pro Stock Motorcycle field and just missed going rounds for the second race in a row.

After a tire-rattling 7.01 under the lights Friday night, Reed laid down a 6.94 early Saturday afternoon, then sat out the next three sessions at the only race on the NHRA tour with five qualifying sessions. “It was weird not running, but we saved parts and it got us to race day,” he said. “If we’d run every session we probably could have gone a .90-flat, but it wasn’t worth trying to blow it up.”

When everybody else got three more shots at the track, Reed eventually slid down to the No. 14 position, setting up a first-round match with No. 3 qualifier Hector Arana Jr., who had reached the Indy final last year. Reed, who broke through for his first round-win of the season two weeks earlier in Brainerd, got a huge jump on Arana with a clutch .018 reaction time, held it until well past half-track, but eventually was overtaken on the big end for a 6.89/194 to 6.97/190 loss.

“I knew I was ahead of him,” said Reed, who maintained the lead to the 1,000-foot mark. “It wasn’t like when I raced Scotty Pollacheck at Brainerd, where I was so far ahead I actually had to turn around to see where he was. I heard him – it’s not hard when there’s a V-twin in the other lane – and I knew he was coming.”

Well aware that Team Liberty might be forced to sit out more qualifying sessions as the season winds down, Reed and crew made the difficult decision to skip the next four races – Charlotte, Maple Grove, St. Louis, and Dallas – and come back with a vengeance at Las Vegas and Pomona. “We’re not in the Countdown and we don’t need to blow up any more motors,” he said. “It’s better to spend more time in the shop, show up at the last two races, maybe shake up the points standings a little, and remind everyone what we can really do when we have all our power.”

PSM – BRAINERD 2017

With their backs to the wall after blowing up an engine on the first qualifying run and skipping the second one, Cory Reed and Team Liberty rebounded Saturday morning with a 6.97 to move into the Lucas Oil Nationals Pro Stock Motorcycle field for good.

At Brainerd International Raceway, where the quickest runs in Top Fuel and Funny Car history were recorded Friday night, Reed wheeled his Team Liberty machine to a decent 6.97 at 187 mph Saturday morning and a consistent 6.98 at 186 that afternoon to solidify his position in the final lineup.

Pitted against Top 10 rider and No. 4 qualifier Scotty Pollacheck in the first round, Reed left Pollacheck at the line and sped away for his first round-win of the season and the first ever for Team Liberty, 6.94 to 6.96. “I looked over somewhere in high gear and nobody was there,” he said. “I had to look behind me to find him. That was the best feeling ever: we’re going to win. Actually, I felt that way even before I ran him, when I woke up Sunday morning. That’s the first time I can say I honestly felt that way all year.”

Reed fell in the next round to year-long nemesis and eventual runner-up L.E. Tonglet, the runaway points leader, who has won as many races this year as all other riders combined – but not before getting another holeshot head start. Reed opened up a huge early advantage, but Tonglet drove around him with, naturally, his strongest run of the weekend, a 6.85. Reed trailed with a 6.96, but at that point, it almost didn’t matter.

“I felt like I won the whole race when we won the first round,” Reed said. “I didn’t even need to make another run after that. It’s tough, starting a new team like this. We knew it was going to be, and it has been. But after a weekend like this, I can finally see what’s ahead of us down the road.”

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