TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed is 31 years old and is “starting over” on Kawasakis in 2014. However, Reed stepped up yet again, as he has often done in the past, to land on the podium at Anaheim 1.
DBR: How do you feel about the race at Anaheim?
CR: “I had a shot to win that and I didn’t. I’m disappointed in the result because of that but satisfied with a third. For me, it’s funny. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, wow, you’re on the podium’ but I expected this. I didn’t work my ass off and pay millions of dollars to run a race team just to come out here and be a part of the 22 guys [in the main]. So, I expect to try and do this every weekend.”
DBR: Talk me through the race a little bit.
CR: “I got a good start, but was probably over-cautious in the first turn. Otherwise, I think I could have battled with RV for a second on the holeshot but I just kind of played it smart. Honestly, it’s just, last year was such a brutal year and I was so uncomfortable and so out of shape that I think I just came in here excited to have the feeling that I’ve had this off-season and feel that I could be a part of what I’ve always been a part of. And I just think that the emotions kind of got to me a little bit. I knew the opportunity was there. I mean, those guys weren’t riding away and the pace wasn’t gnarly. The track was slick, you had to respect it, and we saw two great guys go down. So, I kind of just played it, I wouldn’t say played it smart, but I’m just satisfied to be on the podium.”
DBR: What about the bike change? How’s that working out?
CR: “Seemed to go okay… [Laughs] I feel good on the bike. I don’t want this thing to turn into a Honda-bashing but I wasn’t comfortable last year. First and foremost, I was out of shape and when you’re not in shape everything is against you. The fastest rider here tonight was on a red bike [Justin Barcia] so clearly the bike is fine. For me, I made a lot of changes that were not necessarily always based off of bike. There were some business decisions as well.”
DBR: Do you feel like you can be more creative on your choices now?
CR: “Yeah, I mean we can be creative. Obviously, this year the industry thought I was old, once again. The industry thought I was done, once again. So I had to do what I had to do in ’11 and that was pretty much find a bike that was going to give me the best opportunity. Surprise to all, it’s a Kawasaki. And yeah, I mean, I like it. I love the bike. I think the team’s in shock of the changes we made through the day. We literally took a screwdriver to the bike maybe once or twice and that’s it. So I feel incredibly excited that the off-season pretty much went the way we planned it and we didn’t chase anything at the first race.”
DBR: What did you think when you saw James Stewart on the ground?
CR: “It’s a sight I’ve seen many times. But I mean, it seemed like he was going to the front and he was going to win that one. The track was tough and the line he was taking there in the whoops, I was also taking that line, and it was starting to get away from me as well and I actually shifted to the outside there. When you’re coming out of the turn, I was getting a little loose, like it was getting really slick, so then it was actually upsetting you going in. I only caught the tail-end of it so I don’t know if that was related to same as what he had but I know the inside was a tough line. It was fast but it was tough.”
DBR: Well, when you’re coming in feeling like you have something to prove, does that make a difference?
CR: “I don’t come in like that anymore. When you’re being doubted since 2003, 10 years later, it’s kind of normal. So, the naysayers don’t necessarily motivate me anymore. It’s just all fun and games, you know? Like, I made choices for what was best for us as a team to move forward. I’m 31, and yeah, it hasn’t been a thing where 31-year-olds have been able to challenge for Supercross wins and Championships but hopefully I can be the guy that changes that. I mean, I still feel young. I feel healthy this year. I feel fit this year, and just happy, more than anything. So, I’ll give it my all and try to change and re-write that rule that old guys can’t do good in Supercross.”
DBR: Now switching gears, what about having Tate chase you around for the parade lap during opening ceremonies? How cool was that?
CR: “It was a special moment. I just think that it’s just part of how tonight was. I put a lot of pressure and a lot of focus in the off-season and I felt like I came here really well prepared – probably, the best that I’ve ever been. And I just think that knowing that and having unique and fun opportunities like that with Tate, I think that the excitement got to me a little bit and when there was an opportunity to win, I man, I just rode tight. I didn’t have a good flow. I struggled with the gator back. Early on, I felt good on it then and then I struggled with it. Then it kind of just had a moment on that, so then I had to just think about, ‘okay, what’s it worth to throw it on the ground? Two of my main competitors have already done that. Let’s try to just put this thing on the box and get 20 points’.”
DBR: If it was a choice of podium or not, how hard would you have battled?
CR: “Yeah, I mean I was always going to battle for the podium. That was something that I wanted to do. When we [Reed and Dungey] were kind of third and fourth I was a little bit more excited to make a push but when I had a pretty easy third I was gauging off of RV and he wasn’t taking any real time out of me so I just kind of rode it around at the end there. So, live and learn, I guess. Like I said, 13 years in, you’d think you’d know a lot but I got excited and I guess I kind of choked.”
DBR: Well, it’s different racing against a new guy because usually you get to know your competitors and how they go about things. When you were chasing Roczen, was anything different about that?
CR: “I think that Kenny rode really solid the whole race but I think Stew going down was his second wind. It seemed like when RV was out front and I was kind of putting a little bit of pressure on him he was kind of making a few little mistakes. But then I started making mistakes, too so we were kind of yo-yoing there. And then it seemed like when Stew was on him, Stew looked like he was going to be the guy that was going to win. But I think that Stew went down and gave him that breather. I think it was maybe only 4 or 5 laps so he just kind of rode it out. I mean, I know what it’s like to come in here and win as a rookie. It’s badass. You know, he’s worked hard this off-season. He’s very talented, he’s not from here, he’s dreamed a lot about this moment and it’s special. It was probably one of his easier wins because he kind of just rode around. And I don’t want to say it all fell in his lap but definitely things went right for him and he got to ride his race. And he rode smart. He’s a smart kid. I mean, you don’t win a World Championship at 16 years old if you’re not smart. And I think that’s what the Euro guys do. They learn early because they’re off the tit at a young age and the US riders are not. They’ve got their moms and dads. And I mean he has his mom and dad around a little bit but I think he’s much more of a strong individual than what some of the American guys are when they’re young.”
DBR: It sounds like you’ve got a lot of respect for him.
CR: “I do! I love the kid. I’d love to have him on my team so we’ll see what we can do. Him winning races like that might price me out of it but I really like him, he’s a great kid and I have a lot of respect for him. And I look forward to challenging him every weekend and trying to beat him.”
DBR: But if it comes down to it, you’ll…
CR: “Put him on his ass? Yeah, for sure!”