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Monday Conversation I: Chad Reed

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Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed finally won his first main event of the season at Indianapolis last Saturday night. At just past the halfway point in the championship, the two are again tied atop the points standings.

Racer X: So how does that feel?
Chad Reed: It feels awesome. I mean, it was a good win for many more reasons than you’d probably ever think. It just was a big relief to win it. More than anything, I got the holeshot, and the crowd was going absolutely nuts. I kind of froze up, almost; I hadn’t been out front all year long and hadn’t led that many laps. It felt good. It felt like I got the monkey off my back a little bit.

You kept saying that you just had to get a start and run up there, and then right off the line, I saw you edge into that first turn with the lead, and it was like, “Oh, boy,” because I knew that this was going to tell us a lot about both you and James Stewart.
I never was saying that I wanted to get the holeshot, and if I got it, then I was going to automatically win. I mean, James has been riding really, really good, but I just wanted myself to be in a good position, and that’s what I did tonight. I just put myself in a good position, and like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve been up front, and he’s been riding really, really well. I rode real tight! [Laughs] I was just like, “Don’t crash!” So, when he passed me, I actually started riding a lot better and started hitting my turns a little bit better and I was able to stay right on him, and then he made a few little mistakes, and I was able to come up on him... He ate me alive through the lappers. He rode really well through them and I made a few bad decisions and didn’t carve through them as good as I wanted to. But I couldn’t be happier.

All the other times we’ve talked this year, you’ve always put on a smile, but I know you weren’t super-happy.
The last five weeks, truly, have been hard. Pretty much since Houston, it’s been like pushing shit uphill [laughs]. It’s been hard! He’s been on a tear, and I just felt that I haven’t been riding well. I’m happy with the team. They’ve been really patient with me, and I was doing everything I could. I mean, they were wanting to know what the hell they could do to help, and I just said, “It’s me! It’s nothing with the bike, I just need to get in a happy place.” That’s what I need to improve on. I just need to be better when I’m not feeling that great.

The second time James fell, you put a wheel in on him in the previous turn. Do you feel like he saw that and maybe that contributed to his fall, that maybe he wasn’t aware that you were that close?
Yeah, I think I was definitely closer than he may have thought, and that’s what I was happy with. I felt that I was able to regroup after he passed me, because he was definitely setting a faster pace than I was, and I was able to rebound – and I knew I could. I knew when I was out front and I was watching my pit board, the numbers on the pit board really weren’t impressing me [laughs], and it was just a matter of time.

[Fans start screaming for Reed to race the Nationals.]
Even the fans right now are wanting me to race the outdoors now. I got my first win, and I guess I’m going outdoors [laughs].

When you were out front, you had to hear the crowd, and then now that you’ve won, the crowd is still going nuts. What does that mean to you after having the past few weeks go like they did?
It’s important. I think the script of supercross hasn’t really been that fun, so I wanted to change it up, but I felt like I had a great week, and to be honest with you, I’ve had other great weeks but then come to the track and struggled. Tonight, it just seemed like one of those nights again because I was fourth-fastest in practice, and I went back to the truck thinking, “What the hell’s going on?” again. But we were able to make some real good, smart choices, and I felt a lot better in the Heat race. I think being in James’ Heat race was good. I got a good start, was able to get out front, was able to ride the pace, and that’s what it’s all about. But this is gnarly. I think I’ve won 35 or 36 races – I think this is my 36th race – and I’ve never, ever seen anything like this [crowd].

Over the past few weeks, you’ve become a bit of an underdog and obviously the crowd loves an underdog.
Yeah, for sure. And the other thing is that I think the track was really tough in the main event. The laptimes were a little slower than what we were turning in our Heat race, and it was an important track to get a good start on.

In the whoops – those things were gnarly – after James got by you, you jumped through them one lap. Were you just trying to try it out and see if it would work for you like that?
Yeah, it was an experiment to see what I could do different. The Lites guys were jumping through them and they were doing it a lot different than James and I. James and I wanted to come out of the turn and go wide-open and blitz through them, while the Lites guys, their line came back to the left so they could jump through. It took a few laps to change up the track to our advantage. I felt okay in the whoops tonight. I didn’t feel like my normal self in them, but I think I was solid enough to not really make big mistakes in them. I was just there every lap, and that was important.

Finally, now that you’ve got this monkey off your back, how does it change your outlook for the rest of the series?
It’s just good to re-set the clock and take it as a new race [next week]. It’s even points again, and a new season again, and I just want to come to the race and ride the best that I can. As long as I do that, then wherever I finish, I’m happy. The last five or six weeks have been pretty disappointing for me. It hasn’t been that fun, to be honest. But with saying that, it was nice knowing that it was me. It wasn’t like I was struggling with something with the bike, so I wasn’t searching with the team or anything. I was searching with me, and my trainer here, she’s been busting my balls...

Trainer, are you referring to Ellie?
Yeah, she’s my trainer.

Really?
Yeah, she’s bad-ass.

Yeah, that’s tough, because she’s actually in your bed, so you have to get up in the morning...
She kicks my ass out, so... You can’t just snooze when the trainer’s in the bed!
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