Las Vegas Press Conference ReportFriday, May 1, 2009 | 3:32 PM
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The big news from the press conference today was the absence of points leader James Stewart of the San Manuel Yamaha team. Some speculated that he may have hurt himself during the week, while others think he just “blew it off”, but the truth is that no one really knows what’s going on or why he didn’t show.
However, with Stewart not in the room, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed let fly plenty of comments about last week’s controversy, this week’s race, and the apparent hatred he and Stewart share. Here are some highlights:
“I’m in a great position. Every other time I’ve been in this position [coming into the last race] I’ve been the leader. This is cool. Six points down, I’ve got nothing to lose, and pretty much in NASCAR terms, checkers or wreckers.”
Talking about Salt Lake, and what might have happened late in the race, Reed said, “I mean, there are always ifs ands or buts, but I felt I was in a great position, and with five laps to go I was feeling really, really good and strong. It was a track that was actually a little easier to follow than it was to lead, and with the mud and the way the track turned out, it left a lot of inside lines open, and I took one of those one time, and it turned out pretty good. So I kind of knew my position and where I was, so it was a shame to give up a little time to James 15 laps in.”
In regard to the incident last week with Kyle Chisholm, Reed had this to say: “I guess I’m just going to take my road, and I’ve always tried to be honest with you guys and tell you my side of the story and what I feel… Who can deny that it was intentional? You watch the video and it’s quite obvious – his line, and his position being a lap down, and the obvious of him being James’ teammate – and it was a shame. I don’t believe that Kyle’s a bad person or anything like that. I’ve heard that he’s a great guy, and I don’t know him personally, but it seems that he’s a good person. It seems weird that a good person would do that, so it’s a shame. But it’s all water under the bridge, and we’ll just live and learn. There’s a paper trail a mile long of what people in… Should I say, ‘His boss’ has done along the way? You look through the years and we can all find little things that he has done, and one that stands out most is sitting [Steve] Boniface out of a race [in 2003 at Millville with the Red Bull KTM team] because he wouldn’t help somebody, and taking his rear wheel out of the bike. I find it quite amusing, quite funny, and each and every one of the people sitting in this room I believe knows the truth and what really happened, whether they write that or not. Everyone has to be political.”
About team tactics on his side, Reed said, “There’s been no team talks. I went back to Florida this week, and we don’t roll like that. I said it in my Racer X interview last week that I’m truly blessed with the way everything turned out this year, going to Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, working with Roger [Decoster] and the team… I’ve really learned a lot and have become a better person. That’s what I’m most proud of. Win or lose this championship, I feel that I’m better, and I’m happy about that.”
Reed was also humble and admitted he was wrong in how he handled Ivan Tedesco a couple of years ago in “Chumpgate” and even Andrew Short last year. “I think I’ll take 100 percent of the heat with the Ivan thing. I was heated, and I felt that I was better than I was performing, and I was racing for position on the lead lap, and same with Shorty last year. I somewhat felt my walls coming in. I was hurt, and I didn’t want to be hurt, and I felt that I was good enough to win races, and it was a tough position to be in. I had people around me saying things and they were in my head, and I think the situation was made out worse than it really was. I think I made dumb choices, but at the end of the day, when you calm down and think about it, I was racing on the lead lap for a podium position. At that time, it was Shorty’s best 450cc main-event finish. So you live and learn.”James Stewart’s absence as well. He not only took it as a slight to him and the other media that bothered to attend the event, but also as a slight to his readers, who would have to read content without the inclusion of the points leader about the race tomorrow night. This was his question: “I want to thank you and the other riders for showing our readers respect by showing up today, and it’s a shame that not every pro athlete feels that way. But James not being here, you kind of had a smile. What’s the deal? It’s the biggest race of the year!”
Reed’s response was: “Gosh, a few weeks ago I tried to strangle him, I think…” he said jokingly. “I think you’re very influenced by the people around you, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Steve Giberson from VitalMX.com asked Reed if he was looking for allies on the track: “I want to win this championship,” Reed said. “I feel that I have the best chance of anybody on the track to [ensure] the outcome of the end result. So I’m going to go in and give it my all. I’m going to race James Stewart the way he has raced me and everybody else since 2002, so I look forward to the race. I’m going to have fun and give it my all. What happens beyond that is 100-percent out of my hands. I think a lot of people watched last week’s race and were a little disappointed, so if people take things into their own hands, that’s beyond anything that I can control.”
Rupert X asked Chad how close he was to coming to blows with James on the podium in Jacksonville in their infamous face-off, to which Reed responded, “[Laughs] In order to come to blows, you’ve got to have somebody that’s willing to throw down, too. So I don’t think we were that close to getting ready to throw down. I grew up as a normal kid. I went to primary school and a regular school… I got on a bus, wore a uniform and everything like that, so I grew up in a playground, not like most of these motocross kids that are home-schooled… I don’t know, I had fun with it, and I was heated, but for good reasons, I believe.”
To round it out, Reed commented on the importance of this title to him: “It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned a lot, but this title has a hell of a lot more riding on it than just that red background and number one. There’s a lot of pride involved, and there’s a lot of, I would call it, hatred over what happened last year, and the situation that it’s left in still to this day. There’s nothing more that I want to do than to stand on the podium tonight and be the champion, so I will do everything in my power to try and make that happen.”
Tomorrow night’s going to be good…
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