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5 Minutes With... Chad Reed

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Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed went to the line last Saturday at an AMA National for the first time since Budds Creek in 2007, and as an actual championship contender for the first time since 2006. He was fastest in both practice sessions, but a poor start in the first moto, coupled with a poor early-lap pace in the second moto (and some “personal issues”) relegated him to “only” a 4-3 showing. He says the best is yet to come.

Racer X: You spent two full years away from AMA national motocross, basically, so what was your take on your first time back?
Chad Reed: It was fun! It was pretty much everything that I remembered [laughs]: the early wake-up for the 8 a.m. riders’ meeting still sucks [laughs] – I’m not a morning person – and then this weekend we were first practice, so I was actually on the track at 8:50... Eyes half-closed, it seemed like it helped, because I was fastest in practice [laughs]. It was a great weekend, though. I had a lot of fun. It was Glen Helen, and I enjoy Glen Helen, actually. The track backward was fun – it was just as good as the other way – and the start was the first time I’d ever done it like that. Going into that first turn the first race mid-pack definitely brought back some crazy memories. It’s been a while. Overall, it was a good weekend. It was fun.

As you pointed out, you were fastest in practice, so it seemed like you had speed, but your starts weren’t great.
Yeah, I think the results on paper don’t really reflect on my weekend, for what it was for us. Like you said, I had a mediocre start in the first one, and I had to come from a long way back and try to pick them off one by one just to get up toward the front and limit the damage. Halfway through the race, in the second moto, I had some personal issues that didn’t allow me to do what I wanted to do. Overall, I’m really, really excited, actually. My speed was there, and there were no surprises for me. We made a lot of changes to the bike Friday night after the media practice thing, and the bike was great. I felt good and confident, and there are a few things here and there we need to tweak with me and I think we’ll be good. I think that result on paper doesn’t explain our weekend, but I feel like we’re looking good for the series.

When Ryan Villopoto got by you, you were pressuring him until he got around Josh Grant before you did and he got away, so when we get to some other tracks, do you think things will improve for you?
Yeah, I mean I expected to do well this weekend. I enjoy Glen Helen; it’s a fast, wide-open track, and it gets really rough. You’ve got to be strong. Many people think it’s not my style or that’s not a track I would excel at or whatever, but I actually enjoyed the track. It was fun. I enjoyed the whole weekend, really. I think the only thing I really struggled with was going fast the first few laps after they go and water the shit out of the track and make it all nasty. It’s just typical Glen Helen where they way overdo the water and way overdo everything; the jumps are really flat, so they get kind of gnarly kickers on them, and the sun problem that everybody had... Those are the things we deal with year-in and year-out with Glen Helen. It seems like it doesn’t ever rain in California but they want a mud race whether it’s raining or not! [Laughs] I think they achieved that, but overall I had fun. I love the ruts and stuff at Glen Helen, and I love the fast stuff, and overall I think I had a good weekend, I’ve just got to work on those first couple laps when the track’s nasty and wet like that. I think Hangtown’s going to be a lot like that, and it’s a track I’m looking forward to getting in and getting out of... [Laughs] It’s not my favorite track. Everything after that, though, is good. It’s not something that I think the clubs or tracks are doing wrong, it’s just the typical California weather – it’s dry, hot and dusty, and nobody wants dust, so you need to water the track.

After the second moto, it looked like you were favoring your left hand or wrist or something like that. Is something going on there?
Yeah, I had a few issues over the weekend show up that weren’t planned, so that’s why I say the result on paper doesn’t really show what we really had, and I think, for me, there were no surprises. I wasn’t surprised by the pace, I wasn’t surprised by the track, I wasn’t surpries by the competition... Everybody did what I thought they would do, and my result wasn’t what I expected or thought was going to happen, but I feel I know what the issue was, and we’ll go to work and continue to get more comfortable through the year. The bike was good, and we made a lot of great changes, and we got lucky that it was the first race and they let us do that media thing on Friday and it allowed us to get a jump on our weekend. The rest of the races aren’t going to be like that, so we need to be on our game in practice. I feel like I’m where I need to be, and I just need to continue to do what I’m doing. I’m not freaking out [laughs]...

Does it actually help your confidence in a way that things went exactly as you expected them to?
Yeah, I’m confident. I feel good, and the thing is I think I’m in a great position. People are thinking, “Aww, see, he can’t ride outdoors,” and all that kind of stuff, so I think it’s good. I’m in a great position, and the first one’s out of the way, so I got the nerves out and overall I think it was exciting. Everybody seems to want to say, “Oh, what are you doing here? Don’t you wish you were out on a boat having a beer?” It’s like, no, I don’t. I’ve been there and done that, and it was a lot of fun, and it was what I needed to do to get to this point and get excited about it. I can honestly say that even with one of my worst outdoor finishes ever, besides the Motocross des Nations last year, it was an awesome weekend for me. I had a lot of fun, and it’s going to be a fun, exciting year. I thought long and hard about my decision to be here, and I believe I’m here for the right reasons, and I think we’re going to prove some people wrong.

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