AMA MX: The Resurgence Of Chad Reed
By FTR on June 09, 2011 12:03 AM
Prior to the start of the 2011 Monster Energy Supercross season, just about everyone was ready to write off former champ Chad Reed. Not any more…
Back at the beginning of December, just weeks away from the start of the 2011 Monster Energy Supercross season Chad Reed wasn’t sure he would be racing this year. The veteran rider hadn’t been signed by any of the industry’s factory teams or leading factory-supported efforts, and, nearing the latter portion of his career, retirement was fast becoming an increasingly realistic option.
However, Reed still had the fire in him to compete and rather than take 'no' for an answer, he took matters into his own hands and entered the very foreign territory of team ownership.
In other major motorsports like NASCAR, IndyCar or NHRA, owning one’s own team is not unheard of. While still relatively uncommon, a number of drivers have seen tremendous success at the helm of their own program. However, in the sport of motocross, this was an undertaking no one had ever really attempted. Jeremy McGrath was ready to give it a go just prior to his retirement, but ultimately, it never came to fruition.
If there was to be any rider capable of successfully taking on such a challenge, Reed would definitely be on the short list of potential candidates. As the most successful international rider in the history of the sport and a global star throughout his native Australia, the U.S., and Europe, Reed has both the status and passion to be an effective leader. He also hand-selected his bike -- a Honda -- after putting several bikes through their paces and determining what was the best fit for him. He aligned himself with strong support from successful brands like Bel-Ray and Pro Circuit to make sure his equipment was the best it could possibly be, and he instantly became the face of the Shift brand, wearing its gear while out on the track.
No one really knew what to expect once the world’s leading supercross riders took to the track in January, but the industry figured the odds were stacked against Reed, forced to go head-to-head with younger competitors on factory equipment.
It didn’t take long for Reed to find his rhythm and re-establish himself a consistent contender. And then in San Diego, he grabbed an impressive maiden victory for his new outfit, setting the tone for the season and demonstrating that he was there to fight for a championship.
After closing out the year with a big win in Las Vegas and missing out on the supercross championship by a scant four points, Reed put together the package necessary to allow him to compete in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship this summer. Heading into the season-opening round at Hangtown, Reed was once again challenged with a loaded field of younger talent. However, unlike the supercross opener in Anaheim in which Reed was doing almost everything on his own, he had earned the support from Factory Honda after such a successful indoor campaign and was set to compete with a much stronger team behind him.
A fascinating showdown with defending champion Ryan Dungey ultimately ended in a season-opening overall victory at Hangtown for Reed. While he tied Dungey in points for the day, Reed caught, passed, and eventually pulled away from his rival in the final moto to secure the tiebreaker.
Prior to the race, Reed mentioned that his excitement and anticipation for the upcoming season rivaled what he felt in 2009, when he went out and won his first motocross title for Suzuki. He proved that he was in fact at the top of his game and became an instant threat to Dungey’s throne.
Just two weeks ago at Freestone, Reed kept the ball rolling, dominating en route to an opening moto victory. A rare mistake in the second moto put Dungey in position to even the score, but misfortune struck down the champion, allowing Reed to capitalize and bring home win number two on the season.
While he stated that he would prefer not to win that way following the race, the fact remained that Reed had gone on to back-to-back victories to start the season and had already opened a healthy points lead. As he had proven all year long, despite being the 'elder statesman' in the paddock, he still has plenty of fight left in him, and he's willing to do whatever he can to make life tough on his younger peers.
While there is still a lot of racing left to go this season -- and anything can happen -- Reed is establishing himself as the front runner for this title. You can bet that week-in and week-out, he will be in the mix for the win and will become a staple on the podium.
Often referred to as “Mr. Consistency,” Reed has stood on the box more than anyone in the history of supercross, and he’s carried that trend over into motocross. With a 21-point advantage in the 450 Class standings, it’s going to take a season-long fight from the likes of Dungey and Ryan Villopoto to track Reed down.
No matter how things play out this summer, Reed can walk away from the 2011 season knowing it was a success. It’s been an incredible storyline to watch unfold throughout the first half of the year, and with 10 weekends of racing still remaining, we haven’t seen the last of what Reed has in store.
Brandon Short | Posted June 08, 2011 Mt. Morris, PA
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