By David Wells
As the oldest man to race a Monster Energy Supercross main event, Chad Reed showed us what legends are made of by returning to the podium for the first time this year with a second-place finish in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday.
Despite his recent struggles, the 34-year-old Australia native proved he still has the talent and speed to win in his 15th Supercross season in the U.S.
That sterling career includes a long list of accomplishments, highlighted by two Supercross titles, 206 starts, 44 wins, 156 top five finishes and 131 podiums to his name -- putting "Two Two" in the conversation as one of the best to ever race.
Here's a look back at the remarkable legacy Reed has forged in Supercross and a glimpse at what this season may have in store for the multi-time champion.
[tweet url="https://twitter.com/SupercrossLIVE/status/826845655977119754" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
2003: Rookie SensationIn a career that stretches back to 1998, there have been plenty of what-if moments for Reed, who has lost out on four separate titles by a total of 17 points. The first close loss occurred in 2003, while riding for Factory Yamaha in his rookie 250cc season. Reed battled with Ricky Carmichael the entire season to finish in second by seven points, despite winning eight races to Carmichael's seven wins. Reed has stated he felt "good enough to be a champion" that season, and the rookie racer took it all the way to the final round.
2004-05: Title BreakthroughIn 2004, Reed won the AMA 250cc Supercross series for the first time in a battle with Kevin Windham, Michael Byrne and Tim Ferry. Reed clinched the title with 10 victories and became a clear front-runner in the sport's top class. The 2005 season started with the much-anticipated entry of James Stewart to the 250cc class. Reed again finished second in the championship to Carmichael, whose seven wins that season were two more than Reed's tally.
2006-07: Near Miss & New TeamThough he "didn't love the four stroke" in 2006 and struggled with his bike, Reed took the 2006 championship chase all the way to the final round and tied with Carmichael in points. This marked the closest Supercross championship in history. Reed placed third on the final night behind Carmichael in second and Stewart in first. Again, Reed lost the championship by a mere two points to Carmichael.
Reed then announced his plans to leave Factory Yamaha in 2007 to start his own private team after obtaining support from Yamaha, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Thor and Nike. The team was name L&M Racing, but Reed struggled with only one win that season. He ultimately finished second again, this time to Stewart.
2008-10: Back On Top Reed mounted a furious comeback campaign in 2008 that saw him win nine of the 14 Supercross rounds and edge out Windham by 13 points for his second title. Heading into 2009, a feud with Stewart dominated the headlines for Reed, along with his move to join the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team. Reed would go on to win three races and again finish in the runner-up spot behind Stewart by four points.
In 2010, Reed joined Ryan Villopoto on a Monster Energy Kawasaki but did not see much racing due to injury to his hand. Reed ultimately pulled out of the championship after writing open letter that stated he had the Epstein-Barr virus, which can cause long-lasting fatigue.
2011-13: Going SoloA year later, Reed was on the lookout for a new team and bike. As he teased photos on his Twitter account, there was a lot of speculation as to what brand of bike and gear Reed would choose. After several deals fell through, Reed announced he was starting his own team, TwoTwo Motorsports, that he would run and ride for with support from Honda in 2011. Reed would go on to take the championship to the final round in Las Vegas against Villopoto and Ryan Dungey. While Reed took home the win in Vegas, he finished second once again in the final standings to Villopoto by four points. Reed was named the winner of the "2011 Rock Hard-Ride Hard Bret Michaels Supercross Award" for putting together another spectacular season and running his own team.
The 2012 and 2013 seasons saw Reed sidelined with injuries. Trailing six points behind in the championship, Reed went down in a crash at the 2012 Dallas round and suffered a torn ACL. In 2013, he announced that he would have another knee surgery and miss much of the season.
2014-16: Highs & LowsReed looked like he was back to his winning ways in 2014 after switching his bike to a Kawasaki and adding sponsor Discount Tire to help his TwoTwo Motorsports team. Reed won two races before clipping the back of Ken Roczen's bike in San Diego, which resulted in a shoulder injury that forced Reed to sit out the remainder of the season -- again finishing second in points.
The 2015-16 season proved to be Reed's most disappointing after he notched only one win and had to close his TwoTwo Motosports team. He later announced that he would continue on riding a Yamaha for the rest of 2016 and into 2017.
With all of the accolades to his name and a consistent history of winning, Reed's struggles looked like a potential ending point to his career. However, Reed, who will turn 35 during this season, refuses to give up racing, saying he "feels great" and has the hunger to win.
As a true champion who epitomizes the flame that burns in all racers, it's no surprise Reed inspired an entire stadium in Glendale to rise to its feet and scream at the top of its lungs last weekend when it saw the former champion finish in second behind Eli Tomac.
Does "Two Two" have another win up his sleeve? While we will have to wait and see, Reed is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.