Monday Conversation I: Chad Reed

March 23, 2009 6:00am | by:
Coming into St. Louis, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed had finished no worse than second place since round two, and only had one finish worse than that – third at round one, after the crash with rival James Stewart. It seems no one is going to get between Stewart and Reed without help for the rest of the year. Under this assumption, if Reed succeeded in finishing no worse than second for the rest of the year, all he needed was two wins in the final six races to guarantee himself a successful championship defense. In St. Louis, he got one of those two wins, with the help of a miscue – actually, a series of miscues throughout the night – by Stewart. Now, even if Stewart wins the rest of the races until Las Vegas, and Reed finishes second, the winner of that final round will be the champion. We talked to Reed after his emotional win.

Racer X: This is turning into a sort of recurring theme. Talk us through what went on tonight.
Chad Reed: The track was fun. You had to be real patient and just race it for what it was. Travis [Pastrana] achieved I think what he wanted to achieve. I think he wanted to achieve something that was different, and not your normal cookie-cutter track. It was fun. These whoops right here, they were all kind of good, and then he did a real small one and then a few big ones, and that caught you off-guard a few times. It was really fun, actually. From the first time I rolled out, I just felt comfortable, and I’m glad I got a decent start because I think it would’ve been really hard to come from behind. It’s the same week after week, though – the cream always kind of rises to the top. The two of us set the fastest times all day long, and we were one and two in the main.

When you got out front, and he got by you in the S-turns, it seemed like you were struggling with line choice through there...
Yeah, I was just undecided on what I was doing, I think. From the Heat and the main event, the lines just changed a little bit, and I was sleeping a little bit and didn’t choose my lines quick enough. Once he got by me, it was good... I mean, he kind of put it up the inside of me, and I didn’t know he was that close – I knew he was close, but I didn’t expect him to pass me right there – so I kind of was like, “Whoa!” [Flinches out of the way.] But it was good. I just kind of stuck on his wheel and tried to go with him, and just sit there and see what happens.

It seemed like you stayed pretty much the same distance behind him for a long time, and then he stretched out a little bit right before he ended up crashing.
Yeah, actually, right where he crashed, I made a pretty big mistake and blew that whole section, and he yarded me pretty good – probably about two seconds. I think he was a 45 [second lap] and that lap, I was like a 48, so I was a little bummed on that. And then it was just kind of tough. It just stayed the same after that, and the turn before the finish line kind of took me a while to figure out a line there as well. The line he was taking was awesome, but for some reason I wasn’t comfortable hitting it, so I had to change it up so I felt comfortable. After that, I really started gelling with it and going with it. I knew we were getting deep into the lappers, and I was hoping they would hold him up and I’d be able to get back on him, but he made a mistake, and it made it easy on me.

When you saw him on the ground, what did you think?
You just think that you know he’s going to fight until the end, so you know he’s going to get back up and go for it, and it was kind of a bike on one side, and he was on the other, and I tried to pick a way around and just put my head down. He really didn’t fight after it, so I don’t know if he bent the bike up or hurt himself, but I was just cruising around and he wasn’t catching me at all. I think he just settled for second after that.

Everybody knows the math of this championship, which is assuming that you finish no worse than second from here on out, you need to win one more of these races after tonight in order to essentially clinch the championship, no matter what James Stewart does. Did that enter your mind as you were finishing the laps, that you got one of the two you needed for this scenario tonight?
I come to the race wanting to win and planning on winning, and he’s been having a great season and riding really, really fast, and it’s normal James – he’s fast. You can never underestimate him, and we just work on what we need to work on during the week, and try to bring our ‘A’ game. I think this week, I felt a little more comfortable than I had in past weeks during practice and qualifying, and timed practice and qualifying are always difficult for me. It’s not my cookie. One lap just kind of sucks. I prefer to go out and race – that’s what it’s all about – so I just try to get through that and then go for it for the 20 laps and the 25 points. That’s what we achieved tonight.