Right Sides Only: Notes from the AAA Texas 500 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers

by Stacey Owens

Not every crew chief who dons the Justin cowboy hat at Texas Motor Speedway looks like he just stepped out of the Old West. Apparently, Rodney Childers was concerned about how he looked and immediately asked those in the media center, "First, I was wondering if I look goofy (laughter). I told Claire I see the pictures from Victory Lane and Chad always looked goofy with his hat on. I was wondering if I did, too." Childers didn't look goofy, but even if he had, he was in Victory Lane, and 39 other crew chiefs were not.

For much of the season, the No. 78 has dominated and looked like he might just win again this weekend. But according to Childers, the No. 4 team has been fast and had a few things gone their way recently, they likely could have recorded wins before arriving at Texas Motor Speedway.

"Overall, it's just a great weekend. In all honesty, we've had good speed lately. We probably could have won a few races here lately. Just didn't do our jobs, whether we made a mistake on pit road, different things. But we had a good car at Chicago, we had a good car at Dover, a good car at Kansas.
"It's all about putting it all together on the right day. Some days that's hard to do. But we've got a great group that has worked really hard back at the shop building a great racecar. Doug and all his guys at the engine shop have worked day and night trying to get their side of it better. Everybody at Ford has done anything we've asked them to do. Keep pushing to try to make each other better. It's been a team effort.
"Just happy to get one in Victory Lane. I feel like we should have won more races this year. It's disappointing. I don't like to lose. It's been a hard year. So to finally get one back into Victory Lane, to feel like we have something we can race with the last four or five weeks has been impressive to me.
"Just really looking forward to racing at Phoenix next week. I should say I'm looking forward to racing at Homestead, but I want to win Phoenix first, then we'll worry about Homestead next," Childers said. 

When the team has a fast race car, then Kevin Harvick can do what he does best: drive it fast. Childers talked about giving Harvick the tools he needs to succeed.

"He's just laser focused, does his job. But it's really about giving him stuff to work with. His tool is the racecar. If we don't give him good tools to work with, he's not going to do a good job.
"I think making our racecars better, making the horsepower better, getting our setups better, all the things we worked really hard on the last two months, has just gave him something he can work with. That's really what's important.
"All these guys are so good at what they do, if you can ever get him what he wants to feel, I think I got something there. I knew when we unloaded at Dover, he said it felt more like 2014, 2015. As soon as he said those words, I knew we had something that we were going to start being able to work with" Childers explained.
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Since they have equipment they can work with, how does Childers feel about competing for another championship since Harvick is locked in to the finale in two weeks in Homestead?

"Now that we've been through this Chase, these last five races, you always assess yourself. We did a lot of complaining to ourselves, sitting in meetings, saying, 'Well, they got more downforce, they got more power,' those type of things.
"I look back on that, and that was my fault. I was never that way in 2014. I was never that way in 2015. Really it come down to a couple months ago. Why are we complaining? We're not going to fix their part. We're not going to take downforce away from them. We're not going to take horsepower away from them. All right, we've got to change what we're doing. We've got to decide if we want to win races and race for a championship. 
"We started building way better racecars. We started having way better setups. We went for three and a half years without changing any shocks. We ran the same four shocks for three and a half years. All of a sudden we put these our four on, the thing is on fire. That's the kind of things you have to work on. There's people out there, like Chad Knaus, that never settle. That's the reason they win championships.
"I feel like over the last two months we have done a good job of not settling, making our cars better, going racing. The hell with everybody else. We need to worry about ourselves. If we give him the right tools on the racetrack, he's going to win races with it.
"I'm just proud of having that backing whether it's Smoke or Zippy or everybody at the shop.  Everybody has worked their butts off the last two months to try to make things better, and they have.  Just fortunate to be in a place and a position where the crew chiefs can make a difference and lead the way a little bit. To be honest, I didn't do a good job leading the way. The last two months, I've tried to do a better job.
"Just fortunate to be in a place I can do that," Childers explained.

Will Homestead be a place of good fortune for the No. 4 team? He's proved that it can be. Just one more race stands between Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and next week's winning driver who will join them in a quest to raise the Monster Energy cup.


Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    This self-admitted grammar nerd also loves country music, though she can't carry a tune; Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life; and her husband who's supportive of her NASCAR obsession and tunes in with her every week... even if it's just to watch the flyover.


Right Sides Only: Notes from the AAA Texas 500 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers Right Sides Only: Notes from the AAA Texas 500 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, November 06, 2017 Rating: 5