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Riding for Team Liberty, as he will all next year, Joey Gladstone drove Cory Reed’s bike into the middle rounds of eliminations at the Dodge Nationals in one of his first races as Reed’s replacement. He ripped the Tree down for a near-perfect .003 reaction time to put away Scotty Pollacheck, 6.90/192 to 6.93/192, but despite Pollacheck’s exalted status as a title contender, this was no upset – it was Gladstone who came from the top half of the field.

“I knew I couldn’t cut that Underdahl team any slack,” said Gladstone, who ran Underdahl power until his recent move to Team Liberty and knows as well as anyone how competitive those motorcycles can be. “That light felt almost too good. When I dropped the clutch, I actually looked up to see if his win light was on because I knew it had to be close.”

It was three-thousandths of a second from perfection and four-thousandths from a disastrous red-light, but Gladstone was right back in the .00s again in the quarterfinals, carding a nearly identical .008 reaction time opposite Hector Arana Jr. for another holeshot lead. But Arana was right there with a .018 and drove around him in the middle of the course for a come-from-behind 6.88/197 to 6.94/192 win and then went on to win the race and move to within three points of incoming leader Eddie Krawiec for the number one spot.

“Second round … that’s not really what we wanted, but you really can’t complain,” Gladstone said. “We did pretty good this weekend, and the bike’s running good. We’ll just see what happens over the next few races.”


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.”

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