Racer X: So this has been a long time coming, huh? How many years has it been that you haven’t won a 450 national? Chad Reed: Eight years or something? For my 450 one, it’s ’03 onward, but it’s been way, way, way, way too long. I would’ve bet my house – I would’ve bet everything – that I would’ve won by now, but you know what? I never did. It wasn’t for a lack of trying [laughs], but I never won. Ricky [Carmichael] was always friggin’ strong.
There were a few times when you should’ve had the win and something weird went on, or you’re battling for the win – like when you were battling with RC at Millville and your header pipe fell off... There was always something weird going on...
Yeah, and it wasn’t ever that I didn’t work hard enough, or anything like that, I just felt like things just basically never clicked. Outdoors, you need to be strong, and you need to have all your ducks lined up because it’s hard, and it’s not something that comes as naturally as supercross does for me. I have to work at it hard, and then living through Ricky’s era didn’t make it any easier, either. No one else was winning, either.
Yeah, exactly, he had three seasons where he won every overall, so... What about today? It still looked like the same Chad Reed from the rest of the season, where you really looked to pick up at about the mid-way point...
Yeah, the first one I actually felt pretty good, but I made a lot of mistakes on the first lap, and I think I was just freaking out that it was about damned time that I got a holeshot, and I think I was just so excited that I made a lot of mistakes, and Shorty was putting in a real, good, clean lap, and he passed me. I just tried to get back on it, and I think I passed him in either the second or third lap back again. Then I just tried to ride smooth and ride my race. The 30 minutes plus two laps is the easy part, to be honest with you. It’s not about fitness, it’s just being 100 percent and trying to be there every lap, every race. I feel like I’ve got some more left in me, I just need a few little things to work on, and this week off is at a great time for me. I need a weekend off, and I need to either keep working on what I’m working on – all this week I worked really hard – and it seemed like it made a little difference. The second race, again, I got a little bit of a tore-up stomach, and I was able to suck it up and come back strong.
So you’re making progress with it...
I felt so, you know? The last few weekends, it’s been every moto, and this weekend it was really only one, so you can’t complain if there’s any progress at all. That’s all I ask for, really, to be honest. It was a great day, and I knew I was going to win as soon as I saw I was fourth-fastest in practice. I knew I was going to win.
It just seems like when I have a bad practice, I win. I almost think every time I won this year in supercross, I was fourth-fastest. So if I could plan it, I would probably try to figure out a way to just work around that, but it’s not that easy.
You’d have to get a lot of your competitors in on it...
What are you going to do with the weekend off?
I’m really excited about it, because I do think it’s going to make a difference, and the team’s going to come back out to Florida, and we’re going to do some testing and try to make some headway with the bike. The bike’s really coming around. I’m stoked with it. And that’s another thing: All those years of riding and doing outdoors, I felt that I was a little behind the eight ball on equipment, and now I have zero excuses. Alessi’s proven it’s a great bike, and Ricky’s proven it’s a great bike, so it’s nice. It’s nice to have that feeling. It’s really coming around for me, and I’m stoked. It feels good and comfortable, so that’s the difference, really.
A year ago right now, you had finished the supercross championship, and you were sitting around doing nothing. Can you contrast Chad Reed a year ago with Chad Reed today?
A year ago, I was the supercross champ, and one would think that you would be on top of the world, and you’d be happy, and you’d be fulfilled, but I wasn’t. I was empty. I just wasn’t enjoying it, and I wasn’t surrounding myself with the right people, and that’s it. That’s really the biggest difference – just being around my people, my wife Ellie, and our friends, and the guys on the team. It’s really a good, positive change for me. I couldn’t be happier. Even at the three previous races, I felt that I had a win in me, and I should’ve won at least once or twice, but at the end of the day, I was smiling, because I was still happy. I knew in the back of my mind that it was going to come around, and that’s the biggest thing, really, is just knowing you belong here and you’re happy for being here. Last year, I won and I wasn’t happy, and this year I’ve lost a lot and I was still happy. I felt that I had a complete package. I didn’t lose because of any other reason other than me not twisting the throttle enough.
Congratulations on your first AMA 450cc National win.
Yeah, it feels good!