Monday Conversation II: Chad Reed


Last Saturday Night, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed put in a ride that had everyone in attendance on their feet, as he went down in the first turn, got up, and proceeded to pass his way through the entire field on a track that most considered to be very hard to pass on. Two turns from the finish, he passed Kevin Windham for second place, losing only three points to championship rival James Stewart despite the first-turn fall. We talked to him after the race.

Racer X: That was nothing short of a great ride. On a track that was supposed to be hard to pass on, you didn’t seem to have much trouble. Talk a little bit about what that felt like for you.
Chad Reed: It was a good ride. I think this season’s been going really good, and I’ve been feeling amazing on the bike, and feeling really strong, and tonight’s just another box you check off. I went down in the first turn and came from last to second on a track that was extremely difficult to pass on. After the Heat race, I said, “Man, whoever gets the holeshot tonight is gone. You’re not even going to see them, if it’s a good guy.” I went down, and I was kind of disheartened because I had kind of already told myself that it was going to be over if you weren’t up there at the front, but I just tried to pick a guy off every lap, and 20 laps later, I got into second. It was a good ride. It definitely goes into the list of some of my favorite rides: like Seattle ’05, when I crashed in the first turn and came back to third or fourth; Indianapolis in ’04, when I crashed in the first turn...

There was even Seattle last year...
Yeah, Seattle last year, I crashed in the first turn, and the championship was on the line, and it’s the same thing this year. You’ve got to act like every race is the last one and go for it, and tonight I felt awesome. I felt like my speed was right where it needed to be, my line choices were really solid, and my strength and my fitness are right where I want them to be, so I’m excited. I’ll take a lot of confidence out of this ride, for sure.

What I heard was that for much of the race you were two seconds a lap faster than everybody out there, although I haven’t seen the actual times. But I was told that everyone was topping out at one-minute flat, and you were running 58s.
Yeah, I mean, it’s comforting to know that I’m able to step it up when I need to, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to feel like that. To go out there and lay it down, like in my Heat race I put down some mid-59s, and in the main event we went down and dipped into the 58s, and the track was pretty beat up and I was coming through traffic the whole time, so that’s an amazing feeling – to know that even in traffic, when we need to, I can step it up. Like I said, it’s comforting to know that we have some in reserve when we need it, and it’s going to be a long season. It’s nice right now. I think I’ve got the points lead, and we’ll just take it race-by-race.

The other thing about it is that you also looked really under control. You were going very fast, but I didn’t see you put a wheel wrong that whole main event – except for the first turn.
No, I don’t think I even had one moment out there, other than my crash in the first turn. I was totally in control. I felt like I could go faster...

If people weren’t in your way?
Yeah, there’s only so much you can do with people in your way, and I just tried to lay it down, and at the end of the day, I can’t say how happy I am. I’m enjoying racing, I’m enjoying riding the bike... Just going out there and seeing a difficult track, when there are ruts and bumps, and being able to move around on the track and pick good lines, and to come to the whoops and just be totally at ease and think, “Whatever, they’re just whoops,” and then just pin it... When in doubt, turn the throttle more. It’s great. I just wanted to stay in control and just be smart. It’s a long season. I’ve been through a season or two, and I know that you’ve got to be on the podium every weekend. Last year was a solid year for me – I think I got nine wins – but I was off the podium a lot, and it was a little tight in Vegas. It’s going to be a fight to the end. James is riding good, and we know that he’s going to work on things and try and make things better, so we just need to try to get a race win, really. I feel like my riding deserves a race win, but I haven’t been able to get one yet. In the past, I was always the slow guy picking up the pieces, and now I’m kind of like the fast guy that’s coming from behind and not winning races. So it is what it is. I’m happy, because I walk off the track and I know I can go sleep tonight, because I know I gave it everything I had, and I know I was strong and we did a lot of damage control.

But in your Heat race, it took you four or five laps to pass Shorty – I mean, it took you a long time...
Yeah, it took me a long time.

So, considering that, how did things change for the main event that you actually were able to make passes and make things happen quickly?
You’ve got to. You’ve got to go. It’s 20 laps in the main event, and the brain tells everyone, “Hey, it’s 20 laps,” and I think they go into conservative mode a little bit. They were just riding... Every guy I came up on, it seemed, was a factory guy, and I was like, “Okay, I’ve just got to be close,” and there were two places that I could pass on the track, and I just put my head down and passed right there.

{LINKS}Obviously, you weren’t that far behind James at the finish, either. I think he cruised the last lap a little bit, but still, part of you has to be thinking that if somehow, magically, this race was 25 laps instead of only 20, you might have had a shot at winning it, don’t you?
Yeah, that’s one way to look at it. I mean, there are a lot of ifs and buts or whatever. If we didn’t crash on the sixth lap of the first Anaheim, maybe I could’ve won, but who knows? If I had gotten the holeshot tonight, I maybe could’ve won, but it is what it is, and I think James is riding good. He’s solid, and I don’t think he was too threatened by the people around him. It seemed like he just rode a smart race. I was the guy coming from behind, and I had to put my head down and make up time and positions, so at the end of the day, I feel really good – I feel confident – and we’ll go into Houston, which is a stadium I enjoy – it’s a football stadium, where we have more 180-degree turns – and hopefully we’ll have more than five or six whoops, and we can have a real whoop section, and have a good race.

You want a track that suits you, then...
Yeah! Let’s just say I want a track that suits me. (Laughs) I didn’t get to design my own track this year, so...