Norwalk represented a weekend of firsts for Pro Stock Motorcycle rookie Cory Reed – first official 6.80, first start from the top half of the field, and, most important, first career round-win in NHRA professional competition.

“I wanted to do better – and we could’ve done better, and we will – but this was a great weekend,” Reed said at the conclusion of the Summit Raceway Equipment Nationals. Reed, son of champion racers Jim and Annie Whiteley, has impressed in his short time as a professional drag racer, but never more so than at the supertrack in the middle of nowhere in tiny Norwalk, Ohio.

“I think people already knew what we could do, but now they really know,” said Reed, who cut a .009 reaction time in his first-round win over veteran Scotty Pollacheck, a former national event finalist. “I kinda wanted to sneak up on them, but I think they know we’re coming now.”

Reed drove away from Pollacheck for a 6.95 to 7.73 win and was poised for another round-win over a name driver and a first career semifinal appearance but, again, he was too quick for his own good. By the smallest possible margin, one-thousandth of a second, Reed disqualified himself in the second round with a -.001 red-light start, just a blink of an eye from a perfect .000 reaction time.

“I saw it when I went by the Tree and knew it was over and just hit the [shift] button, or that run would’ve been a lot better than that,” Reed said of his short-shifting 6.94 against many-time world champion and eventual runner-up Andrew Hines. “I’m still mad about that – it was so close – but I feel good about where we are right now, probably better than I’ve ever felt. We’re halfway through the year, but we’re nowhere near halfway through the schedule.”

Norwalk marks the halfway point of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour, but for motorcycle teams, which run 16 of the 24 NHRA national events, Norwalk is less than a third of the way through the season. “There’s a long way to go,” Reed said, “and we’re just getting started.”