Monday, March 16, 2015

Right Sides Only: Phoenix Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers

Want to know how the west was really won? Just ask Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet. That team won its second consecutive race in the 2015 season by taking the checkers at the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

In winning their fourth consecutive event at the Arizona track and lodging their seventh race in a row finishing in the top two, the Harvick-Childers pair has set itself up as the team to beat all year long.

The No. 4 team was certainly the one to watch all weekend. They captured the pole on Thursday and had the fastest car in the first and second practices. Winning from the front row seemed inevitable.

Childers was quick to give credit where it was due.

"The guys at the shop have built great cars. You know, everything just went our way all weekend.  You come to these deals, and some weekends it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't whether you got a fast car or not. Just proud of all the guys back at the shop that have worked so hard, and of course Kevin. I think his record speaks for itself at this place.

"When you bring him here, I think everybody expects him to win. I didn't want it to be my fault if we didn't. Just proud of everybody, like I said. Just a great effort."

If Childers felt pressure to perform in Phoenix because of Harvick's recent history at the track, then he has his work cut out for him next week. Harvick, a Bakersfield, Calif. native, will be at his home track next weekend when the field heads to Auto Club Speedway.

"I think at this point everybody just expects you to keep winning. That's what makes it hard on all of us. Yeah, I feel like we've got a team that can do that. We have a driver that can do that. We have the resources to do that," he said. "The more you win, the more you expect out of yourself and the more pressure you put on yourself."
            
Childers talked about his driver's determination.

"When we left Vegas last week, he made a point to say, 'I want to win all three of these West Coast races.' I think anybody that knows Kevin Harvick, if he puts his head to something, he's going to try to make it happen.
          
"He grew up around here, has a lot of family around here. That's our goal, for sure."

Harvick was quick to point out that Childers doesn't let the pressure affect him much.

Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
"I guess when he's under pressure, his pulse might be 55. He's on the verge of being dead when he's happy and riding along.
            
"That's just one of the great things about everything that we have going on. He's on that end of the spectrum with calm and collective. When he gets wound up, he gets even quieter.  For me, I get wound up and tend to just get more wound up," Harvick said.
          
"It's a great balance between the two of us because of the fact you can find that middle road and balance. There's a balance with the job, what you do. But there's also a balance within your team, the things that you do, how everybody works together. Just finding that balance has worked out. They've done a great job of putting those people in the right places, and it's just working."

For Childers, the pressure to perform well and win comes from within.

"Just like coming out here for Kevin, when it's your background and something that helped you get to this point, you know, you want to win at those places," he said.          

"I put enough pressure on myself I think every weekend, but it definitely seemed to get me more this week."

How much pressure does he put on himself? Childers shouldered blame for the team not having a great start to the Phoenix race.

"I decided a month ago we weren't going to bring a transmission here that we could shift with. There wasn't going to be an option. We hauled off into one the first lap of the race, and all them guys downshifted and we didn't, there we go.           

"We had to figure it out from there. Just a poor decision on my part. But, you know, hopefully we can fix that before we come back and do a little better job."

A better job? What's better than winning two weeks in a row? I guess he'll answer that question next week.

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