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

by Stacey Owens

Rodney Childers likes Michigan. A lot.

"You know, to be honest, we love coming to Michigan. We love this racetrack. I think if you look at the history of the 4 car, we've been fast here every time we've ever came. 

"You know, we had a great car here in the spring. Of my own doing, we had too much left front camber in the car in the spring and never could put ourselves in position to lead the race because every time a caution would come out we had to put four tires on our car when other guys were putting two on. The biggest thing coming back was to fix that problem and to try to hit some more details and try to make the car a little bit better. 

"But overall it's the same car that we ran here last time, and it didn't hardly have a scratch on it last time. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that it was only on the body plate for like half a day, and I'm like, surely to God they didn't get everything done to that thing in a half a day. You try to continually make your cars better and update them. 

"So it was good, and it's been fast all weekend. Everybody on the 4 team just did a great job of, like I said, hitting those details all weekend," Childers said.

Once Childers and the team had set up the perfect car, they only needed the best track for that setup. Again, Michigan is the type of track their team loves.

"Yeah, the racetracks that have multiple grooves are just good for us. I'll be completely honest. If it's got four grooves, it's good for our race team. It just gives you so many options to be able to move around, and with this year's package, you need to try to get some clean air on your nose and to keep the car turning. We started the race too tight and then we ran over something, had a flat tire, and drug the splitter down a little bit, and then it was just plowing tight after that. We really had to change the car a lot throughout the race and try to make it better. 

"But we started that last run and it was actually a little bit too loose, and that's really what we needed.  We needed to start too loose to be able to be good on the long runs. Once we got to like second or third, he did a great job of just being able to run through 1 and 2 wide open and making a lot of ground on those guys," Childers said.

Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Michigan is typically thought of as a fuel-mileage race. Given that perception, is there a way for teams to test what fuel consumption will be before race day?

"Not necessarily before the race. Most of it is still pretty old school. You've got to look at your mileage during practice and make sure that that looks the same as what the ECU and all the stuff from the engine shop says. That stuff was spot on from the engine shop this week. We felt good about our numbers all weekend long. We felt good about our car. Our guys up on the pit box have been pretty spot-on for quite a few years for me as far as that stuff.  I felt really confident in what we had there," Childers explained.

Where the Stewart-Haas cars didn't experience any fuel issues, that wasn't the case for other teams, specifically Team Penske. 

"I think there's a lot of different things going on there. Obviously it's just a different race team. And the second part of that is when the 22 team put two tires on, any time the right side is jacked up you can't get it full of gas. It looked like the 12 didn't wait long enough, it looked like the 2 didn't wait long enough. I've been in those situations, and I wasn't leaving the pit box until -- I wasn't going to tell him to go until I saw it like completely fill the tube because I felt like we were going to be really close. 

"To have a fast car and a guy that drives it that's aggressive and can keep the pedal down, you want to be in the situation where you've got better -- you need to be in a better situation at the end where he can just go hard, and those guys were trying to save gas, and it just worked out for us," Childers said.

It's nice to have a fast car, and it's even nicer to start hitting a fast stride as the Playoffs approach.

"To be honest, I still feel like it's a long time before the Playoffs. We have a lot that we need to get better. You know, we've just -- we started the year off, and our cars weren't where we needed to be, and we've continually got better and better. I think to be able to get a win on a 550 track and get a win on a 750 track, that says a lot about the race team right now, to sit on the pole at Pocono and have speed there. 

"We've definitely made gains on it. We're not perfect by any means, and we've still got to get a lot better. But we're definitely in a lot better shape than we were at the beginning of the year," Childers explained.

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... as long as she allows him to obsess over college football every fall.  


Right Sides Only: Notes from the Consumers Energy 400 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers Right Sides Only: Notes from the Consumers Energy 400 Winning Crew Chief, Rodney Childers Reviewed by Stacey Owens on Monday, August 12, 2019 Rating: 5