Monday Conversation: Chad Reed

July 20, 2009 12:25pm | by:
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed pulled through to win his second-ever 450 National this weekend at Millville, and it was almost predictable, given his past at the facility. However, his 2-1 score not only landed him a win, but extended his points lead to 37 with only five rounds – 10 motos – left to run. We talked to him after the race.

Racer X: You won High Point, and it seemed pretty convincing when you did it, but it’s been a few weeks of struggling with one good moto, then a bad one, so what does it feel like to finally put it back together?
Chad Reed: It’s rewarding because of the effort that I’ve put in. It’s not like I haven’t been fast enough, strong enough... It’s easy to go home at the end of the day knowing that you just didn’t stink it up, so I’ve known the reality of it all, and I’ve continued to be confident and continued to work on my program and doing what I know and believe is going to make me better. That’s really been it. Even at High Point, I went 1-1 and it was my first-ever 450 win, but there wasn’t that same feeling. I didn’t feel like I wanted to feel. I just felt empty, and it’s because I didn’t ride the way I wanted to. All I want is to show up on the weekend and just ride the best that I can, and if I win, then, hey that’s huge, but if I don’t, then that’s fine, too. That’s what you come to do – you want to just ride your best. Today, I felt that I put my best foot forward. I’m still not necessarily 100 percent, but I felt like it was a good, huge step in the right direction for me. And it’s nice, because I’ve been working so damned hard on my issue, and it really hasn’t been showing on race day. Today was really the first time that it showed. It validates some of my side. The team and everybody wants to know what’s going on, and they all care about you, and it’s hard to sit there week-in and week-out and say, “I’m on it. I’m on it. I’m on it.” “How are you feeling?” “I’m feeling good.” But then you stink it up at the race. It’s tough.

It’s probably a stressful thing for the team, too, to feel like they can’t control it. People want to feel like they can control things, but they can’t always do that...
Yeah, everybody wants to feel like they can wrap their arms around something and wrestle it and try to take it on, you know? With the bike, if I have a bike issue, those guys can all put their heads together and make improvements, and then we can make headway. I’ve been a little standoffish toward them because they want to know what’s up and what’s going on, but I feel that I’ve got a good program going. I know what’s going on, but it’s just not happening as quickly as I wanted. That’s hard, because you’re in a position where people are asking you questions. These guys are paying the bills. And lucky for me, I’ve been lucky enough to still have the red plate, and even on bad weekends, still make points. Had it not been like that, I think there would’ve been a little more pressure from their side.

In the press conference, you said something about wishing that the tracks were rougher. That isn’t a comment you’d expect from a supercross specialist like you. Can you explain why you think that way?
I’ve always liked them rough and gnarly, with the hot days... We haven’t had a tough national yet. The track today was super-smooth – smoother than I’ve ever seen this track. This track’s normally one of the gnarliest, and the weather was so kind to us this year. I’ve been here and seen my teammate [David] Vuillemin pass out and things like that. It’s really been a pretty easy season so far. For me, I like things that separate the men from the boys. You don’t work your butt off to just go out there on a national track and go wide-open, and if you don’t get a good start, you just have no chance at all. I’m a fan of the rough tracks, and I think that our bikes are so good now – they’re so fast, and they handle better than they ever have – and then they make these tracks so smooth and fast, then wonder why people are getting hurt on 450s. But it’s like, if you maybe just left a few bumps, it’s going to slow the track down, and we’re not going to have to go WFO. And I don’t enjoy going WFO. It’s like desert racing.

I interviewed Davi Millsaps last week, and he had the opposite take. What he said was that he thought the tracks should be smoother so the rough stuff doesn’t cause guys to crash and get hurt.
I love Davi to death, but he’s never been a guy that prided himself on his fitness, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear that at all. And the shame is, the difference is clear: As soon as Ricky [Carmichael] stepped away, everything changed. I’ve had the conversation with Ricky. At RedBud, when he was riding the 250cc two-stroke, I just said, “Dude, it’s so gnarly. It’s so different now. It’s nothing like when we did it.” He was pretty disappointed in how smooth it was out there. He’s a guy that worked his ass off, and it showed in his results. I’m all for that as well.

How old are you now, 26 or 27?
I’m 27.

So that’s about the age Ricky was when he retired, but is it weird to say, “back when we did it” or whatever?
I don’t feel old. The number sounds old to me, but I feel young. I still feel like it was only just yesterday that I was 16 and going pro. The funny thing is, I remember being 16, and my teammate at the time was Cameron Taylor in Australia, he was 25 or 26, or maybe 27, and I remember looking at him and going, “Dude, you are so old!” My teammate, [Ryan] Dungey probably does the same thing, you know? It’s pretty funny. But you can’t buy experience, and I’ve been around and seen a lot, and obviously being here week-in and week-out is key.

Putting aside the stomach issue, and I know it’s hard to do, do you feel like you’re getting out of racing the nationals what you wanted to get out of it?
Today, this was the first weekend that I felt good. I was just at ease with myself a little bit, and I don’t feel mad and pissed off at the world because it’s not all happening as quick as I want it to. So today was a good day. I got to do my first-ever victory lap around a national track, and I’ve always wanted to do that. I’ve always seen on the TV when Ricky’s got a face-full of mud and sweat, and he looks all nasty, and there’s no better feeling than that – going out there and being cheered. It felt like a good, hard day at the office, so it was nice. It was nice to go out there and have that feeling today. I didn’t feel complete at Mt. Morris when I won, and this weekend, it feels nice to finally feel like I rode good. I don’t feel like I rode amazing or awesome, but I felt like I rode a whole lot better than I had all season.