Chad Reed interview – Phoenix
Way back in 2003, Monster Energy / Yamaha’s Chad Reed exploded on the scene and won the opening round of his rookie year in the premier class, and the Australian has been battling for podiums, wins and championships ever since. After fifteen years in the premier class, Reedy has racked up a Hall of Fame career resume that includes a record 131 podiums, 44 wins and two premier class Supercross championships, but the number #22 is apparently not quite ready to ride off into the sunset. At 34-years-old—Chad will be 35 in March—he continues to amaze, and if he has anything to say about it, he will add oldest man to ever win a premier class main event to his list of accomplishments in ’17.
Over the first three rounds of the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series, Reedy got progressively better with a DNF-9-7 scorecard, but nothing led us to believe he would be battling for a podium at round four. As per usual, though, Reed came into Phoenix with an expectations-be-damned attitude and just did what he’s done for a decade and half: race at the front against the best Supercross riders the world has to offer.
The former two-time champ got off to a sixth place start, and with the Phoenix crowd hanging on Chad’s every move, he went to work getting to the front. In the end, Reed went by both HRC / Honda’s Cole Seely and the defending 450SX Champion, Red Bull / KTM’s Ryan Dungey, to finish with his first podium of 2017 in second. Reedy has always been a rider whose results are 100% based on comfort, and the Australian was obviously feeling it in Glendale. Photos by Simon Cudby Interview by: Chase Yocom – Opening by: Dan Lamb
Chad, I’m not sure who I’m talking to right now (laughs). Was this is the Chad Reed we all know back tonight? You looked amazing out there tonight. What was up?
Thanks! I guess I rode like the normal Chad Reed. It’s not my first time up there. I’ve been up there more times than anybody in the whole history of the sport. I expected to be there much sooner than four races in, but better later than never.
Talk about your comfort on the bike. In the post race press conference, it sounded like you made some changes to the bike this week. Can you get specific and maybe talk about how much that helped this weekend?
It helped a lot. Finally we were heading in this direction last week. I think with a good start, I was a top five guy last week. I honestly believe that I could have been in the top five or maybe even in the fight for a podium. Who knows. This week we also made a lot of progress and tonight. All day, you’re never going to see me on the top five track leaderboard [in qualifying]. I’m not going to be in the top five. It’s not my thing. Going out there for one lap, I don’t really find that enjoyable. I try to find a balance and a way that I can be the best that I can be throughout the night show. I use practice for practice. Of course it’s still qualifying. Especially tonight with that massive, long start straight away, gate pick wasn’t super, super key. I can’t give you any details unfortunately (laughs), but we’ve tweaked on it a lot, and I think we’re heading in the right direction.
Did you guys tweak on it tonight between the heat races and main event?
I think we made one little change before the main. It was literally one click with the shock. That’s it.
It seemed like it did the job. (laughs)
Yeah, it did. You know, like the area I wanted it to help, it helped. I think positive weekend for sure.
Talk about that two for one pass you pulled off to get into second. You picked off both [Cole] Seely and [Ryan] Dungey there, and I think the entire stadium was on their feet.
I think Dunge got me right back. What I was hoping would happen, happened. I want to say Dungey passed Seely, and I saw Seely going in for the dive bomb and thought, “Yes!” (laughs) Then I just tried to put myself in a position that I could still maintain going 3-3-3, and that allowed me to kind of jump right up on those guys and take advantage of it. I tried not to clean Cole out but get right up there and be aggressive. I want to say, Dunge got me back that same lap and I had to make the pass again. Once I made the pass, I tried to be solid. I tried to put my head down and tried to see where Eli [Tomac] was. I couldn’t believe how far ahead he was. The carrot wasn’t there, so you just had to look at your pit board and go off your lap times.
You and Eli were the only two I saw going 3-4-3-2 through the long rhythm section. What was making you do it?
The rhythm was so easy. I didn’t understand why nobody was doing it. I was surprised. Throughout the day, I don’t know if I ever saw Ryan go three-quad-three. Maybe it was just something he wasn’t comfortable with doing. You know—finally—maybe he had an off night. (laughs) He was still third. I remember that back in the day. You have an off night and you’re still third. It’s nice to be back on the podium.
How was it tonight being back inside an actual football stadium? We had the roof after three straight weekends of battling weather issues.
Yeah, we had the roof. It was a pretty typical Phoenix main event to be honest. It kind of got much dryer. It was pretty slick, and I think those conditions are good for me. I think we need to be good when there’s traction and ruts, but I think we made good progress.
What are your thoughts on the 20-minute main events as we head east? There are a lot of tracks in the east with soft dirt, ruts and that tend to deteriorate more than out west.
I think it will be interesting when we get into the mid 40-second lap times where we’ll be going 24 to 26 laps. It’s 20 minutes. It’s honestly really not any difference. Like tonight, no matter what it would have been a 20-lap race. I think we did 21 maybe, so we’re within a lap. You don’t feel that obviously, but what I think is interesting—at least for me because I’ve been doing 20 laps for 18 years—your body just knows. Whether it’s a minute-long lap or a 45-second lap, it seems like your body just understands the laps. That’s what I’ve found. Any time you go over 20 laps the body is like, “What are we doing here?” I think the body is having to get past a little muscle memory, but yeah, 20 minutes plus one lap is not a huge difference.
Just tonight I was talking to a friend and he said Chad is a fifth to eighth place guy now. Once again you go out there and prove him and all the doubters wrong. What is it that keeps you fighting and being able to prove the doubters wrong time and time again?
Yeah, that is what it is. You expect to be there, you feel like you can be there, but sometimes it doesn’t go to plan.
Your back on the podium and have that itch back obviously. When do we see a win from Chad?
The itch has always been there. I wouldn’t be here if the itch wasn’t there. Who knows when that win will be. If I ride like that week in and week out and somehow I figure out how to start, I think I have a good shot.