Last week’s mud race in San Francisco made for a great equalizer, but the dry conditions in Anaheim should have allowed Reed to check out and cash in a big bonus check. Instead, the Honda duo of Kevin Windham and Davi Millsaps put some heat on the Team San Manuel/Fusion Energy Yamaha rider, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry backing up their pressure. Millsaps looked exceptionally capable on this night when he logged a lap1.3 seconds faster than Reed in his heat race. Windham also looked ready to pressure Reed in the heats until he pushed a little too hard and washed out. Reed, apparently, was struggling to find his rhythm on this night. Ultimately he told his L&M racing team to give up on making bike changes and just chalk it up to an off night for him.
But Reed had a weapon to use even on a night when he wasn’t throwing his hardest. He grabbed a big holeshot, which helped immensely as Windham was soon putting heat on him again. He nearly passed Reed three times in the very same corner that claimed him in the heat race. Halfway through the race, though, KW started losing time as his front tire went flat.
Now it was Millsaps' turn to put the heat on, as he passed the Torco Fuels Honda-mounted Windham and went on a mission to track Reed down. Millsaps kept Reed close for five more laps, but ended up struggling down the stretch as an arm injury incurred in a practice crash during the week flared back up. In fact, Ferry nearly got him for second at the end.
Which makes the question now not who was best in Anaheim, but who was worst? Reed’s off night could be just a one-off event, and he could pull away from the field big next week in San Diego, a place that has been very good to him in the past. But perhaps the real trouble was overcome by Millsaps and Windham. Millsaps had even resorted to acupuncture to try to help his aching arm and hand, and Windham’s flat left him defenseless. Chad Reed may have been off, but the fact that three riders were able to see him in plain sight halfway through the main means there’s a little bit more confidence going through the pits right now.