Monday, February 26, 2018

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers

by Stacey Owens

If you want to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you must have a fast car. It's a good thing Rodney Childers thinks about this track during the off-season.

"Yeah, I mean, this has been somewhere that we've always worked on really hard. I think everybody knows how good Kevin is here. Every winter we seem to work on this racetrack and be prepared as much as possible, just put everything into it we can, and in all honesty, over the winter, you don't really know where you stand with all the stuff that had changed with the new scanning process and all, and we kind of would look at each other every week and just kind of wonder how we were going to be. It was pretty awesome to come down here and all four cars have good speed, and just really everybody did a great job all weekend of adjusting on it, and we made it better every time we got on the racetrack and made it better going into the race. Got off a little bit in the middle of the race and got it going there again at the end," Childers explained.

Since he and the crew provided Harvick with a freaky fast car that no doubt made their Jimmy John's sponsor happy, did Childers stray from his strategy because so many other teams had to make adjustments to keep up with the No. 4 car? Maybe just a little.

"Yeah, that's part of it. I love that kind of racing. I love these types of racetracks where you have a lot of fall-off. It gives you options like that. It makes me realize that we need to work on some things and work on our tools to give us a better idea of what we should do and shouldn't do. But we just kind of -- we just kind of winged it a little bit. At first we were just going to go with a once-stop deal to the end, and then everybody started talking about stopping twice. When you look at the leaderboard and you kind of see where you're at and how much you're leading by and all that stuff, you have to just figure it all out in your head of what would be good. Just thankful that it worked out. Everybody did a really good job with it," Childers said.

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Even knowing that he'd provided Harvick with a race-winning car wasn't enough to completely calm Childers's nerves.

"Honestly, I worried the whole race. I don't know, like I said, it's a lot of fun to come here with him.  He knows what he needs in the race car. He knows what it should feel like, I guess. You know, to lead all those laps over all the years and kind of always give them away, we would sit and joke about it, about there's a curse, you know, and it seems like it had been forever since he won a race here.  But even before I started working with him, I hated racing against him at this place... There's something that he has figured out that he can keep the tires on it and does a good job for us," Childers explained.

Many teams will spend the next 34 races in an attempt to win a single race, but the No. 4 team starts the season with the mindset to win at least one race in the opening five races.

"We've been able to accomplish that some years, and last year we couldn't. You know, I think overall it just gives us a little bit of time to work on our stuff and get it better. Like I said, I had no idea if we were going to run good or bad when we showed up. You don't know where everybody else is with their stuff, and you don't know if you got more downforce, less downforce and more grip or less grip. You don't know any of that stuff. You've just got to get through a few races. And even now... this isn't a good indication of what we have as a company. We need to get through a few weeks and keep working hard and then reevaluate where we're at," Childers said.

Hard work and reevaluations aside, where they are is a step closer to competing for all the marbles at the end of the season. And that's just where everyone else wants to be.


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.


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