450 Words: San Francisco

February 3, 2009 1:33pm | by:

After the Phoenix round of Monster Energy Supercross, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed knew he was on to something. He didn’t win the race, but he matched James Stewart stride for stride in speed, and with a big points lead built over Stewart thanks to a run-in at Anaheim 1, it looked like Chad was ready to take control of the series.

  • Chad was way more excited about his first 2nd than his last.
  • Beware the happy James.
A few weeks later, and Reed is still finishing second to Stewart, but now the seconds are a little more distant, and the points lead over his rival is a lot smaller. The moods are changing right with the results, too. Reed isn’t as giddy with these seconds as he was at first, and Stewart, clearly riding better than he had earlier in the year is smiling a lot more. Reed still has the points lead, but the series now resembles a game which the home team is playing from behind but mounting an huge fourth-quarter comeback. They might not be ahead on the scoreboard yet, but it sure looks inevitable.

Or is it? One month ago, on the eve of the season opener, prognostications indicated Stewart would be an easy series champion. He dominated the last full Supercross tour he competed in (2007), he dominated the last full racing series he competed in (2008 AMA Motocross Championships) and he dominated the off-season races he entered on his new Yamaha (U.S. Open and the Bercy SX).

Momentum was clearly on Stewart’s side then, too, but Reed ignored that and soon proved up to the challenge at Anaheim 1. His task is to do that again. Ignore the previous results and once again convince himself that this title is his. This is the type of mental fortitude that has built Chad Reed, for better or worse. Where many riders would have been beaten down mentally by challenging a rider of Stewart’s caliber each week, Reed has been facing the challenge head-on for years, and his efforts during the month of January ’09 may have actually been his best yet. This is not the sign of a rider who gives up easily, and hence, if anyone can reverse the trend and find a way to make it work, Reed is best equipped.

{LINKS}But now that Stewart is riding high again, it will be a very tough task. Keep in mind that this is a very long series, though, and Reed has plenty of opportunity to try to make that Anaheim magic strike again—like this weekend in Anaheim (again), or at his favorite venue, in San Diego.

So what’s more valuable right now? Having the momentum or having the points lead? That depends on your mood.