Tag: 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.”


At always-fast Sonoma Raceway in the wine country north of San Francisco, veteran Cory Reed enjoyed perhaps the third-best weekend of his Pro Stock Motorcycle career, behind only his runner-up finishes at Maple Grove in 2016 and Charlotte earlier this year. All he did was take out one of the most prolific riders of all time, many-time world champ Eddie Krawiec, in the first round and surprise No. 1 qualifier Angie Smith in the quarterfinals for his fifth semifinal finish ever.

Right when conditions theoretically were their best, Friday evening in the opening qualifying session, Reed’s bike bogged off the line, killing his E.T. (7.14) but not keeping him from a solid speed, 197 mph. Early the next afternoon, he improved dramatically to a 6.83/198 for the No. 8 spot, and, three hours later, he unloaded the best run of his entire career, a 6.79/198 – his first official run in the 6.70s – alongside eventual winner Karen Stoffer, who clocked a 6.75 for the provisional pole.

When eliminations commenced, Reed actually had lane choice over always-favored Krawiec, who had just reached the final last week in Denver. The former Rookie of the Year was disappointed with his .098 reaction time, but when Krawiec faltered downtrack, Reed shot ahead for a winning 6.84/197, fighting to keep his bike off the centerline the whole way. “Seems like I never get any luck,” he said, “but I guess I’m lucky today.”

Fortune smiled on Reed Motorsports’ team leader again in the quarterfinals when Smith, who qualified No. 1 for just the second time ever with a career-best 6.73, slowed to a 7.63/129 after assuming a commanding early lead. Reed left with a second straight .090-something reaction time but won in spite of himself with a 6.83/197 while she reluctantly sat up in the seat and slowed. “I should go give her a hug,” a subdued Reed said with a wry smile immediately after dismounting. “I almost feel guilty for beating her. I mean, she had me.”

In the semifinals, opposite many-time world champ Andrew Hines, who has a better head-to-head record against him (8-1) than he does against any other rider, Reed picked up to an .080 light but still bowed out, 6.76/202 to 6.83/192. “I’m not doing too good on the Tree right now, am I?” he asked, a little embarrassed. “I guess I need to stay out of my own head on the starting line.”


Cory Reed went 1-for-4 in Sonoma Nationals qualifying, but in drag racing a single solid pass in four attempts always counts for infinitely more than four consistent but unspectacular runs. On the shores of San Pablo Bay just north of San Francisco at Sonoma Raceway, under diametrically opposite conditions than what Pro Stock Motorcycle racers encountered days earlier on the edge of the Rocky Mountains outside Denver, Reed’s weekend began with a thud with a 7.17 at 189 mph that ended with oil in his wake.

Q2 Friday afternoon didn’t go much better. Again the Team Liberty machine bogged on the launch, killing the run and limiting him to a 7.26/179 time slip doomed from the start by a sluggish 1.18-second 60-foot time. The team’s hard work paid off the following day when Reed turned in one of his finest performances since Charlotte, a 6.89 at more than 195 mph that propelled him well into the middle of the pack, just one spot shy of the fast half of the field. Despite a disappointing 7.14/188 on his fourth and final attempt, Reed held onto the No. 9 spot and faced Top 10 rider “Flyin’ Ryan” Oehler in theoretically the closest matchup of the first round – No. 8 vs. No. 9.

It lived up to advance billing – almost. Separated by just three-thousandths of a second heading into eliminations, both drivers nearly duplicated their quickest runs all weekend, Reed with a 6.92 and Oehler with a 6.89. Had he let the clutch handle fly 1/200th of a second later, Reed would have won on a holeshot with a perfect .000 reaction time. Instead, he got a -.005 red-light and Oehler was the one who moved on. “You have to go for it when you’re running that close,” he said. “It felt good when I left – I knew it had to be close.”


At the Sonoma Nationals just north of San Francisco in Sonoma, Calif., second-year sensation Cory Reed came within a thousandth of a second of his best run all year. Reed, crowned Rookie of the Year after his incredible 2016 campaign, picked up more than a tenth of a second from his opening qualifying run to record a 6.889 – just one-thousandth of a second from the season-best he established at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Reed ran an out-of-the-box 6.99, picked up dramatically in the second session to a 6.92, and, after a 7-flat in the third session, inched to the line in the final session riding the bubble with the 6.92. Under intense pressure, the Team Liberty rider dropped the hammer for a 6.88 at 191.46 that surprisingly landed him on just the 14th rung on the qualifying ladder.

That set up a first-round match with the No. 3 qualifier, perennial championship contender Hector Arana Jr. For once, Reed actually didn’t tree his opponent, and against one of the fastest bikes in the country, he was out of contention early in the race. Reed recorded a respectable 6.97 at 186 mph, but Arana’s Lucas Oil-backed bike was long gone with a 6.74 at the sixth-fastest speed in Pro Stock Motorcycle history, 199.52 mph.

“This wasn’t a good weekend for us,” Reed admitted. “We’re a new team, and this is going to happen sometimes, but when we get our dyno done and get to try all the stuff [crew chief] Ken [Johnson] has in mind, we’ll be fine.”


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.

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