450 Words: MillvilleWednesday, July 22, 2009 | 10:38 PM
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I talked to an agent friend of mine this weekend, and he discussed how the reputation of a team can go a long way toward who they can sign—and usually, it takes just one rider to make that team look good.
Such is the case with team Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Yamaha, which struggled mightily last year, failing to put a single rider in the top five in a race all season. The squad had some money to throw around last year, and we heard rumors about such talent as James Stewart or Davi Millsaps signing on. But JGRMX is such a different operation—based in North Carolina, for example—that many were skeptical.
Josh Grant on board, and the California kid has turned that team into a force. Grant has established himself as arguably the fastest man in the 450 class of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, as well as a solid contender in Monster Energy Supercross (with a win in both series). With JGR taking JG to the front, and vice versa, it now looks like that both team and rider are in for a long and bright future.
Reed’s team, Rockstar Makita Suzuki, wasn’t a force, either, just a few seasons ago. When Ricky Carmichael signed with team yellow mid-way through the 2004 season, eyebrows raised. Suzuki had so much bad luck going at that point that the term “Suzuki curse” rolled off fans’ tongues. But then came Carmichael and all of his wins, and now the team has a rep so great that riders like Reed put Team Suzuki at the top of their shopping list. That squad placed by Reed and Michael Byrne on the podium this week, won the 250 class with Ryan Dungey, and has led the 450 point standings since round two of the tour, thanks to Mike Alessi and Reed’s one-two punch.
And speaking of one-two punch, Reed and Grant are now establishing themselves as the boys to beat at the Nationals, with them swapping the last four moto wins and the last two overalls. No one else was close during their first moto battle at Millville, and as soon as Grant hit the deck in the first corner of moto two, Reed taking the overall seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
Bottom line is Suzuki turned their once star-crossed fortunes around thanks to the results of one rider, and now JGR Yamaha hopes to do the same thanks to Grant.