Tag: zMax


Back at the controls of Cory Reed’s Precision Service Equipment Hayabusa exactly two years after Reed’s horrible accident at this same event, Joey Gladstone made his first start since Bristol. “It feels good to be back,” he said at spacious zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. “I haven’t ridden in so long I almost forgot what it feels like. I had a few butterflies at first, but they were gone after one run.”

It wasn’t a good one – had the Saturday forecast not been so dire, Gladstone never would have completed it under power. He spun on the launch, quickly recovered, and rolled back into the throttle for a just-for-the-hell-of-it 7.22 at 192.85 mph to get himself on the board. Though they never came close to approaching their career-best performances of 6.72 and 202.18 mph from last season, Gladstone and team improved on every run thereafter, starting with a 6.97 at 194.21 mph Saturday afternoon in Q2.

“We probably had it turned up a little bit too much for that one,” Gladstone said, “but this one gave us some good data to work with.” He picked up a little more in the final session to a 6.93/194.91 and broke into the .80s Sunday morning in the first round of eliminations with by far his quickest and fastest run of the weekend.

13th on the ladder when he staged for round one, Gladstone was down more than a tenth of a second to 2023 Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Van Sant, who’d just missed the 6.70s in qualifying with an aggregate best of 6.80/198. Van Sant slowed way down and Gladstone made a quantum leap into the 6.80s with his first 195+ mph speed since Chicago, but it wasn’t quite enough in a tough 6.86/196 to 6.89/195 loss.

Still, it was a giant step forward for the Reed team’s new alliance with KB Racing, which is led by the most prolific Pro Stock racer of all time, Greg Anderson, who collected his NHRA record 102nd national event win over the weekend. “We really have a home now at KB Racing,” Reed said. “They’d never had an in-house project like this before and really want to see us succeed. Greg obviously knows how to make horsepower – just look at how his own stuff is coming around now. He’s on the dyno every single day, just constantly, and that can only mean good things for us.”


Annie Whiteley qualified No. 3 at the 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway with a 5.54 and got only quicker from there, easily winning the first round with a 5.536 and barely losing in the quarterfinals with a 5.535 at 269.24 mph – just 0.05-mph off of top speed of the meet.

It was her misfortune to make that run against off-and-on nemesis Andy Bohl, who ran .05-mph faster in the other lane, edging her 5.535/269.24 with a slightly quicker and faster 5.520/269.29. “We take turns beating each other – one for him, one for me, one for him, one for me,” Whiteley said. “I guess it was his turn. It must have been really close down there – I never saw him, and he never saw me. We got out of our cars and asked each other, ‘Who won?’ ”

By three-hundredths of a second, Bohl did and moved on to the semifinals. Whiteley’s identical 5.536 in the first round was more than enough against former East Region champion Matt Gill, who shook hard off the line trying to make up the distance between his No. 14 qualifying berth and her No. 3.

After breaking right off the line on the first qualifying attempt, Whiteley’s Mike Strasburg-tuned J&A Service/YNot Racing Camaro was never out of the 5.50s or under 260 mph thereafter. She clocked a solid 5.561 at 267.59 mph in the second session and backed it up with a 5.545/268.87 in Q3. “After that first qualifying run, the car ran great all weekend,” she said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing now the rest of the year, we’ll be fine.”


At the 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., 2016 NHRA Rookie of the Year Cory Reed had the reflexes to win but not yet the horsepower. The controversial, one-of-a-kind 4-wide format, which pits bikes side by side by side by side across zMax Dragway’s four lanes, annually presents problems for riders, who have to deal with three times as many opponents as they do at any other event, but for Reed it’s no problem at all.

“A lot of people don’t like the 4-Wides – there’s too much going on and it messes them up – but I like it,” said the sophomore sensation, whose worst reaction time all weekend was a .022. “To me, it doesn’t really matter when I stage – first, last, whenever. I think running four wide actually gives me an advantage.”

Reed clocked a 6.92 at 192 mph right off the trailer and improved to a 6.89 at 191 in the third of four sessions and eventually landed in the No. 11 spot for the second race in a row. In the opening round of eliminations, he found himself in probably the toughest “quad” of the four, facing nothing but former world champs: Team Liberty teammate Angelle Sampey (2000-01-02), Hector Arana (2009), and Andrew Hines (2004-05-06-14-15), who had won the 4-Wide Nationals three years in a row.

With a telepathic .009 reaction time, Reed, who also destroyed the Tree with .00 lights in qualifying, left on Arana and got a noticeable jump on Hines and Sampey, but it didn’t hold. Hines finished first with a 6.83 and Sampey, who made the field on her final attempt for the second straight time, also advanced to the semifinals with a 6.95 while Arana slowed to a 7.27 and Reed to a coasting 10.03 at 83 mph.

“I pulled right up there and got in first,” Reed said. “Angelle even asked me, ‘What was the rush up there?’ There’s was no rush – I was ready to go.”


Jim and son Steven Whiteley both reached the semifinals in Pro Mod’s highly anticipated debut at the unpredictable 4-Wide Nationals, which fans love and drivers in other classes have come to dread. “I know what the pros have said in the past, but I loved it,” said Jim, whose sentiments were echoed by not just Steven but 85 percent of the dozens of Pro Mod drivers who descended upon zMax Dragway for the first time.

“It’s hardest for the guys in the inside lanes,” Steven said. “It’s not just that there are four stage lights to keep track of instead of just two; it’s that if you’re in lane 2 or lane 3, you’re not looking at the Tree the way you have at every other track you’ve ever been to. That’s what messes everybody up. You’ve really got to train yourself ahead of time.”

Just qualifying, as is the case at every event on the J&A Service Pro Mod tour, where 30 drivers are vying for a spot in the field every weekend, is an accomplishment. Jim made the top half of the field with a 5.83 at 247 mph for the No. 7 spot and Steven, despite running just two-hundredths slower than his dad, a 5.85 at 249, was six spots behind him in 13th.

In the first round of eliminations, Jim left on everybody in his quad and advanced easily with a 5.836, matching his qualifying time right to the thousandth of a second. He finished second to eventual winner Mike Castellana and well ahead of former Pro Stock great Larry Morgan, who’s in his first season of Pro Mod, and veteran Danny Rowe. (In 4-wide competition, the top two drivers from each quad move on to the next round.)

Coming from the bottom half of the field, Steven beat everybody with by far his best run of the weekend, an outstanding 5.79 at 251 mph. Jonathan Gray survived with a 5.85, Michael Bowman lost on a holeshot with a 5.81, and Pete Farber, who outqualified them all, shook hard and shut off early.

Steven had his pick of the four lanes for his semifinal matchup, but violent shake did him in not far off the line. “I could see the guy on the same track as me way ahead and knew I was never going to catch him,” he said. “I might have tried to get back on it because you never know what the guys on the other track are doing, but I could actually see Troy [Coughlin] over the wall when he passed me, and there was no way I was going to beat them both.”

Jim suffered a similar fate, coasting to a 12.05 at 99 mph, but once again he left on all the other drivers. Both Whiteleys walked away with a smile on their faces. “This whole thing was awesome,” Steven said. “It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, and it was actually a lot of fun. I can’t wait to get back here next year.”

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