Monday, March 12, 2018

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

by Stacey Owens

If anyone was concerned during the off-season about Stewart Haas Racing's decision to switch manufacturers, there's no reason to panic: Rodney Childers has things figured out.

For three consecutive weeks, Childers has led his driver to Victory Lane. This time, Kevin Harvick closed the deal at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, even though he didn't win either of the first two stages. Childers talked about the final stage.

"Yeah, I felt like we had a pretty good car there. We were still struggling off the corner. We took another stab at the end. It seemed to be a little bit better. You just don't know when the right time is to pit. Kind of wanted to wait a few more laps. Then the 9 peeled off and pitted. That kind of left us no choice than to pit and stay in front of him at least, try to gain a lap on the 18. We had a little trouble on pit road, ended up behind the 24 when we got strung back out. It was fortunate that we had a good enough car to be able to get back to him, at least race with him. But, man, it was a heck of a battle today. To sit down there in the corner and watch these guys race like that was, like, my short track days of battling with some good old guys back around Tri‑County and stuff. I like racing like that. Sometimes you want a dominant car and drive away. To win one after you've battled all day is pretty awesome,” Childers explained.

Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs

Childers admits that the car wasn't running as fast as he wanted during the opening stages, so he and the crew went to work to get the car ready for the final stage.

"Yeah, I mean, most of the race we were just lacking rear grip on entry and exit. We fought that every stop of the race. We just kept trying to make that part better. Really the more we made it better, the faster he was. It was a little bit of a few things. It was some wedge. It was some air pressure. It was quite a few things. But... this definitely felt like a Playoff race. It felt like I was at Homestead. Everybody just worked their guts out the whole weekend. It's really cool... to park it in Victory Lane," Childers said.

Following last week's L1-level penalty for two violations found during teardown at the NASCAR R&D Center after the car's win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the No. 4 was looking for redemption, and they certainly found it. Team owner, Tony Stewart, told the media that the team does not plan to appeal the penalty, despite the fact that the team will not get the playoff points for that win.

For any other team, that would already be an issue, but the No. 4 joined an exclusive club with its three consecutive wins. Are they setting a new standard? Stay tuned later this week when teams roll into Auto Club Speedway for the final race of the West Coast swing.


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.