PSM – LAS VEGAS
Pressed into service when Joey Gladstone’s jet-ski romp on the Colorado River days before the race ended in a 70-mph tumble and a bruised tailbone, Cory Reed entered his first NHRA event since he climbed off the bike at Indy to grant his much lighter teammate the opportunity of a lifetime. In the end, it might have been better had Gladstone been well enough to ride at the Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Fit as a fiddle and skinny as a rail, Reed, is still at a distinct competitive disadvantage, too tall and too heavy for his Buell-powered Team Liberty XBR. The former NHRA Rookie of the Year opened qualifying with an off-pace 7.17 at 190.06 mph, followed with a similar 7.134 at 190.38 mph Friday afternoon, picked up about a tenth of a second Saturday, but still found himself a few hundredths short of the all-6-second field with back-to-back 7.0s at 190 mph.
Reed wound up 19th on the final qualifying sheet, a couple ticks behind many-time national event winner Karen Stoffer and Katie Sullivan and ahead of veteran Freddie Camarena, former Division 7 bike champ Anthony Vanetti, and newcomer Maurice Allen. When the tour wraps up at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., in two weeks, Gladstone will be back astride the motorcycle, and when the 2019 season opens in Gainesville, Fla., next March, Reed will be on a lighter, faster, more competitive bike.