Monday, March 5, 2018

Right Sides Only: Notes from the Pennzoil 400 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers

by Stacey Owens

Two out of three isn't bad... and when those wins are back-to-back at 1.5-mile tracks, well, that's a pretty good way to start a new season.

Crew chief Rodney Childers spent the off-season getting cars ready for Kevin Harvick, and as the last two weeks have proven, he's done an outstanding job.

"You know, like I said last week, you never know going into a season if it's going to be good or bad or whether you're behind or you're ahead or whatever the case may be. You know, I thought we would go to Atlanta and run good, but I thought we would go to Atlanta and run good because of Kevin Harvick. You know, I figured we would come here and really see what we had. I was impressed from the first lap he made on Friday. He said the car drove good. It went through the bumps better than it ever has here, and just all the stuff that it's supposed to do.

"You know, I really think it just comes down to a lot of hard work at the shop, you know, a lot of hard work at the engine shop, Doug Yates and his guys at Roush Yates... the stuff that Ford Performance has done to try to help us out, all that stuff matters.

"I think we've done a good job as a team to focus on the details over the winter and focus on the fundamentals of racing, and really just focus on our own stuff and kind of forget about the trick of the week and all the other stuff that goes around. This guy beside me has told me over and over since day one I need to worry about our own stuff and focus on our own stuff, and I feel like that's what we've done, and it just has worked out good so far" Childers explained.

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Childers had every reason to brag about bringing such a dominant car to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but when asked about the car's performance, the crew chief was humble.

"You know, I didn't know with the weather changing a little bit going into today, with the wind not blowing -- actually blowing the opposite direction. You know, the temperature was down. The track temp was up.  There was just a lot of things that were different.

"But we felt good about our car yesterday in practice. It reacted to things that we thought that it should. Like I said, probably the most impressive thing is how it went through the bumps down in 1 and 2 the whole weekend was incredible. Some of that stuff we don't ever understand how we did it, but we'll figure that part out, I guess.

"But we had a good car all weekend," Childers said.

As teams head to Phoenix next weekend, how does Childers feel about the team's flat-track program?

"Yeah, I mean, we definitely hit our stride at Phoenix early as far as the 4 team. And then we went through a spell there where I think the track changed a little bit, the tires changed a little bit, and we just kind of got off of our base. We went back to some things last fall, and we had good speed all weekend. I think our cars are better now than what they were last fall, and I think we can go out there and be competitive and hopefully have a shot at another win out there," Childers explained.

A stage win sweep, two consecutive wins, and cars that are better than they were last fall. Don't look now, but we may be glimpsing a two-time champion.


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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