Pro Stock Motorcycle will make its first appearance at Heartland Motorsports Park since 1997 for this weekend’s Menards NHRA Nationals, meaning Joey Gladstone will race in Topeka for the first time in the class.
But Gladstone has enjoyed at least one other significant first lately, picking up his first career NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series victory last month in Sonoma. After two weeks off, Pro Stock Motorcycle is back in action at Topeka’s House of Speed and Gladstone is ready to keep the momentum going on his J&A Service Suzuki Hayabusa.
The victory brought him within two points of leader Angelle Sampey and after a series of near-misses this year, including back-to-back runner-up showings before Sonoma, the win might have opened the floodgates for more Gladstone success in 2022.
“Going to all these finals and losing, you wonder if it’s ever meant to be, but then you win and it makes all that sacrifice worth it,” Gladstone said. “It means more than you could ever imagine. (Sonoma) was just the start for us. We’re hungrier and we’re going to stand on it a little bit and try to get this championship. Now that the monkey (of getting a first win) is off my back, we’re going after the big one and trying to win a championship.”
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) won the 2021 event, and this year’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including live eliminations coverage starting at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 14. It is the ninth race during the 2022 Pro Stock Motorcycle season and with the Countdown to the Championship playoffs right around the corner, Gladstone knows he has to be on his game.
That hasn’t been a problem lately, as he’s been the most consistent rider in the class this summer, advancing to three straight final rounds. He’s having the time of his life riding for team owner and close friend Cory Reed, becoming a legitimate championship contender in the process.
He has to deal with a host of standouts in the two-wheeled category, including Sampey, who won the race at Topeka in 1997, Eddie Krawiec, defending world champ Matt Smith, Karen Stoffer, Steve Johnson, Jerry Savoie, and Angie Smith, but Gladstone has enjoyed being the thorn in the side of the category’s toughest competitors. He loves the challenge and has no plans of slowing down in his title hunt.
“As long as I can stay out here, I will be out here,” Gladstone said. “The people we’re racing against – Matt, Angelle, Eddie, Jerry, Karen – are all top-tier. These people are stout and they’re all good. That makes it feel quite a bit better. They’ve been out here a while and we’re still green, but with a bit more time and refinement, I think that we can become one of those names. To be a pair of renegade 29–30-year-old guys swinging with these guys and making them sweat, this is so cool, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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