Racer X: That certainly didn’t seem like an easy win, having to come from so far back, despite the fact that James Stewart went down on the start... Chad Reed: It wasn’t an easy win. I didn’t crash in the first turn, but I definitely got caught up in it. It was just kind of tough from there, so I just had to be patient. I don’t know what was up tonight, but I found it really hard to pass aggressively – just to be that much faster than the guy in front of me to make up time. And I struggled in my Heat to make passes, and I also struggled in the main, so I had to be patient with myself and with the track. It paid off. I saw Jason [Lawrence] out front, and with getting caught up in the first turn, I knew there was a lot of good guys in the back, so I was just trying to put solid laps together and not make mistakes where I would go backward or crash and throw it away. I just put my head down, saw Jason out front, and tried to take it lap-by-lap.
I lost a dollar because of you, because at the 10-lap point, when you moved into second, someone bet me a dollar that Lawrence would get tired and you’d catch him, but when I saw the lead he had, I was like, “He’s not going to get that tired!”
Yeah, he had a good lead. Sorry about that [laughs]. I saw him out front, and he put some really good laps together, and I think he rode really smooth and conservative at the beginning. From about lap seven through about lap 12 or 13, he really put some solid laps together and kind of made me think, “Shit, I’ve got to get going!” I put a pass on K-Dub and a pass on my teammate Alessi and just tried to put my head down and go after it. It definitely took me longer than I thought. I was struggling out there tonight. It always feels good to get a win when you don’t feel good. I love this place, and I’ve always been strong here, but I kind of struggled.
It was apparent in practice and in losing your Heat race to Josh Hill that you were struggling. Did it play on your mind at all going into the main?
No, I always know the situation, and I always look at the realities of why we’re struggling, and I felt there were little things that I wasn’t doing right. In the main event, I did it a little better, but I was just in the right place at the right time and put a good, solid 20 laps together. I think that’s my third Daytona win, and that means a lot. Daytona’s a race where not many people can put their name on one plaque, and I’m excited to have done it a third time.
And realistically it easily could’ve been your fourth with last year’s race...
Yeah, totally. For me, it was my fourth, but for my name being on there, it wasn’t. That’s why we go racing. K-Dub rode a good, solid race last year and was there to capitalize on a mistake on our part.
Did you see James go down in the first turn?
I knew he went down, but it was more the fact that I was stuck in there and I had to back up and get around all the bullshit and then go for it. I was putting my head down and just going lap-for-lap. That’s all I did. I didn’t think, “Oh, James is down, and I’ve got to go now.” I didn’t. I just rode my race, and that’s kind of my most important thing, which was just to not get ahead of myself and try to take too much advantage of the situation.
Were you keeping an eye on the big Daytona leaderboard thing?
I couldn’t see the board. It was way the hell away. But I couldn’t see it. It was a long way away, but I knew kind of what was going on. I saw my pitboard once, with three laps to go, so I couldn’t even tell you what laptimes I was doing, or who was where. I just knew Jason was leading and I had to catch him. I was coming back on one of the straightaways and I saw James, and he wasn’t making up ground or carving through like he normally does. I was pretty confident and at ease the whole time, I just had to be patient.
You mentioned in Indy that you were a bit tight out front, so now that you’ve won two of these things, do you feel better about being out front and battling with Stewart next time?
Yeah, I think, race by race, you get better at that, and I think I only led four or five laps tonight, but I led the main one – and that’s the 20th one – and was what I couldn’t achieve last year. It’s a different race. I wasn’t out front with James or going at it with him, but that weekend’s going to come here in the near future, and I just want to be ready to go. I feel like I’m really healthy, the bike’s great, I’m in good shape, so I think I’m in a good position. To have 11 points, considering we started out the weekend even... Being tied isn’t going to get it done because he has the wins on me, so I knew I needed to get out front. But I never knew that I’d be leaving here with an 11-point lead. You take it when you can.
But that was the gameplan coming into the season, right? To be there every week and try to force mistakes?
I think so! You’ve got to be consistent and be there every weekend. For me, my worst finish is third, and I’ve learned that you’ve got to be on the podium every weekend. Last year, I was a little inconsistent through the middle of the season, and it cost me a lot of points and made it difficult in Vegas. It kind of made it a little nerve-wracking. So, for me, I went through a phase where I struggled a little bit, and now it’s time to turn it around. There are no excuses. I’ve just got to go out there and make it happen.