Monday Conversation III: Chad Reed

April 21, 2008 1:21am

San Manuel Yamaha’s Chad Reed has had a heck of a week. First, he (now famously) nearly ends his entire championship run with a crash in practice last week in Detroit, but heroically manages to come back to the track, race the main event, and score nine points in the process. Then, after a week of doing everything he could for his damaged shoulder and lungs, he manages to pull off a second-place finish in St. Louis, behind championship rival Kevin Windham.
    In between, he and Windham were witnessed jawing at each other during the track walk, and both have been clear of the distaste for the other’s actions.
    Add all of that drama to a tight championship chase, and what else can you ask for from a racing series?

Racer X: [A fan gets a photo with Chad Reed, then walks away, then comes back and asks for the hat he’s wearing.] Imagine if you could just walk up to anyone, anywhere and just ask for an article of clothing. “Can I have your shoes?” “Can I have your shorts?”
Chad Reed: It’s pretty weird. You’d be surprised what they ask for.

Obviously, you weren’t 100 percent tonight...

I was a long way from 100 percent. Going from 12th [last week] to second [this week] is huge for me. We had an awesome week. I was back and forth from LA to Temecula, from LA to Temecula, just trying to see doctors and trying to just get everything taken care of – try to make a big recovery. We made huge gains this week, and there were a lot of people who supported me, and to have those guys around me... Unfortunately, we’ve been in this position a lot, so you learn a lot over the years. I think we were very well-rehearsed. Last weekend was just survival, and I think it was just trying to salvage, more than anything. I didn’t expect much. If I got points, good. If not, I really didn’t expect anything more, just because I was in so much pain. It was a rough weekend. This weekend, I felt pretty good in practice, and I was on the top until like two laps from the end, and that was kind of surprising. The track just got really gnarly in the main event, and the whoops were really tough, and I couldn’t hang with K-Dub [Kevin Windham] in the whoops, so it just wasn’t worth it for me. I had to let go of my pride and look at the bigger picture, and that’s tough. I felt, for the rest of the track, I had what it took to win, I just didn’t have what it took in the whoops.

So what’s the secret? Is it really good drugs? Or is it really good tolerance to pain?

(Laughs) I mean, managing the pain has been important. I don’t like drugs, and I don’t take no pills or nothing like that. It’s just trying to manage it, trying to get the swelling down, and I have some great doctors that do some really crazy stuff that doesn’t include drugs, so it’s great. It’s good to come out and get a second, for sure.

Are you going to find a go-kart place that doesn’t do press releases when you come in and drive?
I thought it was kind of funny, actually. I mean, to be honest, a lot of the message boards have been kind of lame and boring, and it seemed like this week, they were lit up a little bit, so it gave them something to talk about, I guess – get off the couch a little bit and get the fingers moving. I guess those guys are in shape now, so it’s good.

Do you think they get finger-pump?

Maybe, I don’t know. I get arm-pump signing (autographs), so maybe I need to type more.

So, obviously driving an electric go-kart at an indoor track isn’t hard on your shoulder...
It’s even a funnier story – I wasn’t even there doing it. I was there, and a friend drove for me. I think that story’s cooler than anything. I made world news.

Next week, Seattle is usually wet. Which would you prefer? Wet or dry?
At this point, it doesn’t matter. I’ve won every mud race this year, so...

won Daytona, anyway...

I guess. I class that as a win, for me. I emotionally made it there (laughs), I just didn’t physically make it. It was tough. I feel like it’s been kind of ups and downs a little bit, and I made a lot of mistakes that I haven’t made in past years, and I guess it all comes down to trying to push the envelope a little bit, you know? I’ve said it a number of times, but win or lose, I want to walk away feeling happy and feeling like I didn’t leave anything on the table, and that’s what I try to do. Sometimes, it’s definitely jumped up and bitten me, and I’ve given some wins away, and other times I thought that I wasn’t really at my best, but I was able to win, so you’ve got to take the good with the bad. If we’re able to pull this thing off at the end, we’ll have some good highlights for my video when I walk up there [at the awards ceremony], anyway. I’m looking forward to it.

It seems like you and K-Dub aren’t getting along...

It’s not necessarily getting along, I just feel that he totally called me out last week, and I couldn’t have gotten out of his way any more. I was out there, and I was one of those guys that I yell and scream at every week. I was a lapper, and I felt like I was trying to do everything possible... You watch the video, and what he said, I’m a straight-up guy, and I think honestly when you listen to what he said and watch the video, he looked like a fool. I wasn’t going to jeopardize myself at that point, and I was just happy to be out there and happy to be making laps and walking away with some points. I guess he felt like I did it [ran him high in a berm], and he said that he was truly worried about me, but I’ve got a lot of respect for the guy. I root for him on some weekends. He’s the guy that some people write off, and those times that you write him off, he comes out and kicks people’s asses. I respect that about him. But what he said, I think I just put it down to the title coming in. He’s in a win-win situation, and I’m in a survival situation, and there’s going to be tension. I’m not about to let this thing go, and I know the people that he has around him calling the shots, and I’m confident in my program that we can make this thing happen because of that.
    I’m not going to lie, but last weekend was really bad, and I was really lucky just to get releases from the hospital. It’s been kind of an emotional up and down, and it seems that since Daytona, things have been kind of an uphill battle with a lot of things. It seems like the red guys [Honda] are making things difficult, the AMA’s making things difficult... I guess I was riding a little too slow [during practice in St. Louis] and I tried to stop off the track this weekend, and they took my fastest lap away from me. It’s all part of the game. When you get up there, and you’re the champ, that’s when all that shit doesn’t matter. You just get out there and say, “Hey, get that up your ass,” kind of thing.

Because you’ve got a “1” and they don’t...

Yeah, I mean, I feel like I’m still in control of this thing. To salvage a second this weekend, it was huge for me, and I think it was huge for my competitors. I think a lot of them, you can see they’re all motivated, and there’s a hell of a lot more red bikes than there are blue bikes up front, and they’re all pushing the envelope. Still, we got out there, got a good start, and I did what I had to do.