Kevin Harvick’s team manager Rodney Childers brushes off Bristol dirt, talks team struggles and laments Lobster injuries
One of the NASCAR Cup Series garage’s sweetest and most approachable crew chiefs, Rodney Childers, isn’t one to stir the proverbial pot unless specifically asked about a spicy topic. And even then, don’t expect Kevin Harvick’s longtime crew chief to ruffle too many feathers – that’s just not his style.
However, in rare unscripted franchise moments, Childers made no secret of his feelings on several topics of interest during a conference call with reporters earlier this week.
Let’s take a look at what the pit boss veteran had to say and consider how some of his comments might resonate in the days to come.
Rodney Childers is not a fan of the Bristol dirt race
Asked on Wednesday’s call to discuss the one track he wouldn’t mind being dropped from the Cup Series schedule, Rodney Childers didn’t water down his feelings.
“The one that hurts my heart the most is putting dirt on Bristol, just because I love (that track) so much,” Childers said. “Bristol is a completely amazing race track, and I’m totally fine with racing on dirt somewhere – I just don’t want to do it in Bristol.”
Childers’ feeling on Tennessee’s short track covering its familiar white concrete racing surface in red clay for its Spring 2021 and Spring 2022 Cup run isn’t all that different from the feeling of its driver, who ridiculed Bristol land after an early exit from this the Easter Sunday event of the year on the 0.533 mile high bank oval.
“If I had a choice, we wouldn’t do this anyway,” said Harvick, who finished 15e and 34e on Bristol land, said a group of reporters. “What’s the point, really?
Childers – although he is hardly enamored with the idea of Bristol not hosting its two annual hardtop Cup races – recognizes a potential benefit in holding a dirt race.
“It’s been a good show every time we’ve done it, and it’s been a great race, and the fans have loved it, so I’m good with that too,” said the Cup-winning team manager. 2014. “There aren’t many (tracks) that I despise. I think everything is fine. »
No one can fault Childers for preferring Bristol concrete to dirt. After all, Harvick has won three Cups at Thunder Valley – including two with Childers atop his stand. Harvick captured Bristol’s spring race with Richard Childress Racing in 2005, long before anyone considered turning Bristol into a dirt track for the spring event. Harvick’s two victories with Childers and Stewart-Haas Racing came in the fall night race – which remained on concrete.
“This Bristol Night Race has always meant a lot to me, and Kevin will tell you a million times that it seems like Rodney works harder when it comes to Bristol Night Race,” Childers said Wednesday. “Maybe I do. Maybe not, but it’s really a matter of trust more than anything else.
It’s a confidence Harvick and Childers clearly lack when Bristol is doused in dirt.
Rodney Childers not happy with 2022 performance
Although he still has a chance to qualify for the Cup Series playoffs, Kevin Harvick is winless after 19 races in 2022. If the playoffs started today, Harvick – who trails the man by 19 points of the playoff bubble Christopher Bell – would be the first driver to miss the cut.
Childers – the crew chief responsible for Harvick’s 35 wins since the driver and crew chief joined SHR together in 2014 – takes no pleasure in the team’s performance in 2022, which includes just four placings among the top five.
“It’s definitely not what we wanted, that’s for sure,” Childers said. “For our team, the expectation is that we go out there and win eight or nine races a year, and when you don’t it’s a huge disappointment.
Complicating matters for Harvick’s #4 team is a combination of recurring pit road issues and difficulties acclimating to the Cup Series Next Generation race car that debuted. officials in February at the Daytona 500.
“You want to get in this new car and come out with a bang,” Childers said. “I think we all saw that obviously we weren’t able to do it, and it took a lot of adjustment from a memory point of view, whether it was the driver, the team manager, the road team – everyone involved – it’s just trying to get our hands and arms wrapped around it and understanding and going out there and competing.
Will Childers’ comments inspire the team and maybe even serve as a catalyst for Harvick to make a late push in the playoffs? That remains to be seen. Undeniable, however, is Childers’ level of dissatisfaction – particularly with how the team fared with the Next Gen car.
“I think you all know me well enough that if you don’t win, you suck,” Childers said. “My grade right now is a ‘D.’ “We have to do a lot better. Our guys have worked really hard, and it’s not for lack of effort. But we have to win races and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Rodney Childers focuses more on protecting lobsters than eating them
Turning his attention to Sunday’s Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Kevin Harvick took four wins, three with Rodney Childers at the helm, Harvick’s #4 Ford crew chief made a confession when asked about the giant lobster trophy awarded to winners. on the 1,058 mile track.
Apparently he and Harvick haven’t had much luck keeping their lobsters out of harm’s way.
“Kevin got the first one, and I think that’s when [Harvick’s son] Keelan was still quite small, and he ended up breaking his arms one day,” Childers said. “Then mine – one of the dogs accidentally chewed it up a bit one day. The other one is actually sitting right here behind me. One of them is still sitting in my office, that way no one’s spoils.
For what it’s worth, Childers likes to eat lobster, but he usually refrains from having a meal with the infamous sea creature.
“I love it, but most of the time I look at the menu and see how expensive it is, and I just go for something cheap,” Childers said. “But I’m probably a once-a-year lobster guy. I love it in different ways, but most of these lobsters are about 20% of what we get at Victory Lane. These are a bit bulky.
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