Monday Conversation II: Chad Reed

You wouldn’t expect that you could say that the guy who has led the Monster Energy/AMA Supercross Championship from the very first round has had a “rollercoaster season”, but the fact is that San Manuel Yamaha’s Chad Reed has had just such a season. After winning five of the first six rounds on the tour, he has only managed to win two of the last six run so far, and fully half of those race, he finished outside of the top five altogether. However, on the tough, demanding Toronto track, Reed put it all back together again and came away with his seventh win of the season, extending his points lead back to 20 over Kevin Windham.

Racer X: A lot was said about the dirt this weekend. What did you think of it?
Chad Reed: The dirt was horrible! [Laughs] If anyone liked that, I would like to know who – maybe [Jacob] Marsack, because he seems to like the mud, and he was strong all weekend, so... It was survival out there. It was important to get that holeshot and try to get out front, and I just tried to control the race. I watched the pitboard and I just tried to keep [the gap] at 10 seconds, and anything under that, I tried to pick it up a little bit. I think the key tonight was that slow was fast. Second practice, I tried to push a little hard maybe and ended up second fastest, and I learned a lot then, that trying to go fast wasn’t going to get her done.

How big of a deal was the holeshot on a night like tonight?

It was big. I mean, if you watch it on TV or whatever, you’ll see that I fought for that thing all the way down. I got a pretty good jump, and I felt like I was on the straightaway at Unadilla – just standing up and shifting gears. Davi [Millsaps] was on my outside, and he was coming in hot, and we kind of collided, and I’m glad he didn’t go down – he’s a good friend. That was key, to just get out there and just try and be consistent. Hilly [Josh Hill] was just kind of fighting it for a little bit, and then K-Dub [Kevin Windham], and Davi, so everyone kind of had a shot at it, and I just tried to be the old-school Reed – just keep it on two wheels, ride slow, and try to get it done.

What about the last couple of races where that didn’t happen? What was going on?

I mean, Daytona, honestly, thinking about it, I’m bummed that I gave up those points, and I’m bummed at the AMA. Obviously, there’s two sides to the story, but I thought they handled it, you know, not the greatest. But it felt good. I walked away from the bike knowing that I gave it everything I had and didn’t leave anything on the table, and I said in the press conference in Anaheim that that was the goal, you know? The crashes that I’ve had this year, or the mistakes that I’ve made, it’s all been that. It’s easy to ride around. In Atlanta, I had a holeshot, and Davi was pressuring me there, and I just tried a jump that was kind of a 50/50 shot, and I came out on the worst end of the stick and crashed. I said that I wanted to jump up over that stupid bump thing so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it, and I paid the price of not making it. In Minneapolis, I was sick, so I wasn’t 100 percent, and I was still pushing and going for it, and I made a mistake. When you’re not 100 percent and you make a mistake, things happen and you go down. I just try to live for what I’d set out to do, and tonight wasn’t a race where it was good for that. You were split. You’d go for it when you could, but then I was really easy on it in the toughest parts of the track.

You even singled the finish line one lap...

Yeah, there were three guys, and I had no options. Those guys [behind me] really got a good break there – they jumped up on me pretty good and gained maybe five seconds that lap. That was it. I’m just trying to stick by my word and my plans that I had at the beginning of the year. Like I said in the beginning, if I win, I win, but at the end of the day, I want to walk away knowing that I gave it everything that I had. To this day, I feel like I’ve stayed true to the goal.

Tell us about going back to Australia after Minneapolis – which was held on your birthday – and surprising your family back home.
It’s always difficult. You’ve got one weekend off, and I was sick, and some people kind of questioned me getting on a plane and flying from Minneapolis – it was like a 24-hour trip just to get there. Nobody knew [back home]. I just showed up and surprised everybody. I made my ticket and nobody really even knew. It was that Saturday night, I just said, “Hey, guys, don’t try to get a hold of me over the next week because I’m not going to be here.” They kind of said, “Why?” and I said, “Hey, I’m going to Australia.” Whether they agreed or not, it was my decision. I just wanted to go back there and just hang out. There’s nothing like home and nothing like family. It was the roughest and the worst birthday I’ve ever had in my life, and I wanted to go back there and just hang out and do nothing. I have a house on the beach, and basically I went from the breakfast table to the beach to home again. That was it. I didn’t do anything.

Was there maybe a little bit of added pressure for you to perform this weekend knowing that maybe your team didn’t want you to split like that?

That’s why I love my San Manuel Yamaha team, just because they’re so supportive, you know? I have so much say and so much control in the team, more than anybody else. If nobody’s jealous of not being on that team, they should be, because it’s awesome. They stick by their riders, and whether they agree or they don’t, they stand by you. They supported it. My mechanic – everyone – they just sent me text messages on my Australian phone going, “What’s up? You having fun?” and that was it. They know what Chad Reed needs to do to win. I’ve got to have fun and just enjoy life, and that’s what I did. I just went back there and hung out with my family.

And now that you won again, you’re smiling again...

I was smiling... I mean, after Daytona, it was just one of those things. Even right after the race, I was happy, but I think it was just more the AMA thing that bugged me more than anything, because it’s easy to swallow a bike thing or whatever, but those conditions were unbelievable. The race should never, ever have gone that long. Dirt bikes do not run on water, and the decision to let it go that long was, I thought, irresponsible, and they put us in danger. Not only was there a lot of water on the track, but lightning as well. That fired me up more than the bike. I knew that I did everything that I could. I dunked that thing one time, and I paid the price for it. But I’m happy. It’s going great. I’ve had some ups and downs, but I’ve got seven wins now, and like I said, I want to get this thing over and done with.