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November 11, 2014

Rodney Childers

JENNIE LONG:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Today we have a special NASCAR teleconference feature all four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship contending crew chiefs.  Each will join us for approximately 15 minutes.  We'll start with Rodney Childers, followed by Darian Grubb, Todd Gordon and Luke Lambert.
Joining us is now Rodney Childers, crew chief of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing and driven by Kevin Harvick.¬† Rodney, thanks for joining us, and congratulations on the win last weekend.
RODNEY CHILDERS:  Yeah, thanks for having me on.  I appreciate it.  It was a great win for us for sure, and thankful to be moving on to Miami.
JENNIE LONG:  How are you and the No.4 team preparing for this weekend's championship race?  Does last week's win provide the team with any momentum going into the weekend?
RODNEY CHILDERS:  Well, I mean, we're preparing just like we've prepared all year.  You know, there's really nothing that we need to do any different as far as our cars or anything like that.  We need to stay on course and try to treat this just like we have every other race this year and try not to really put any extra pressure on ourselves.  We've just got to go down there and do the same things we've been doing.
The guys and everybody on the team definitely have a lot of confidence after this past weekend, and any time you can win a race going into that last one, I think it gives everybody a little bit of a boost, and definitely good for the race team.

Q.  You've never been in this situation before as a crew chief.  Is there anybody that you went to for advice, and maybe what was the best advice given to you?
RODNEY CHILDERS:  No, there hasn't been anybody so far that I've actually went to for advice.  You know, I think the biggest thing for us and this format is just to go race and do the things that we've been doing all year, and really if you can go do that and do your best job, that's really all you've got to do.  It's not about anything but treating it just like the first race of the year and the Daytona 500.  You've got to go put your best foot forward and go do the best job you can.  There's definitely some people that have been good to me over the years.  Zippy has been through this before, and Smoke, and other people that I'm close to, and definitely I've got people around me that can help, but as of right now, we're just trying to treat it just like we have all year.

Q.  You had tweeted earlier about eating antacids.  Do you have to do that again on Sunday?
RODNEY CHILDERS:  No, I don't think it really comes down to what you eat before the race, but it really just depends.  This past weekend was probably the least amount of pressure I have felt in a long time.  It may not have looked that way, but I was a lot more nervous at Charlotte than I was at Phoenix.
You know, it really depends on what kind of race car you've got all weekend and how things are going and how confident you are and what you've got going on.  Hopefully we can unload good and have a good car all weekend, and that part will help out.

Q.  After the race Sunday when one of our radio broadcasters was going to interview you, you started talking but just kind of broke down and got emotional, couldn't finish the interview.  After you won the race, what was it that made you so emotional?  What was it you were thinking about or was there somebody in particular you were thinking about?
RODNEY CHILDERS:¬† Well, I think it's a lot of things.¬† You know, there's thousands of things that run through your mind at that moment, and basically how you got to where you're at, how many people helped you get there, how many people on this race team at Stewart‑Haas and how many people in the engine shop at Hendrick Motorsports and how many people in that chassis shop put their heart and soul into this stuff every single day and just work countless hours.¬† The guys on this race team and what we went through at the beginning of the year to get it going, there's not too many people that would have went through that, and I really expected people to work a couple months and realize how bad it was and turn around and walk out the door.
Really nobody ever gave up, and just thinking about all that and how far we've come and how important of a race it is, and for me personally I've wanted to be part of something like that for a long time.  I've wanted to race for a championship, and I've never really had that opportunity.
You know, to be able to do that was just something that was exciting to me, and the more I thought about it, the worse I got.
You know, it's emotional for everybody, and it's important to everybody.  You know, like Kevin said at lunch today, we were actually talking about this same subject, and he says, you can't blame somebody for caring, and really when you see somebody in that situation, they're in that situation because they really care and they give 100 percent.  These guys give up a lot.  They're away from their families, away from their kids, and it's hard on everybody.  We're all thankful when something like that goes the right way.

Q.¬† How eye‑opening was it at the beginning of the season with some of the struggles?¬† Obviously you guys ran well a lot of those races so there was something to carry on, but when you have finishes of 41st, 39th, 38th, 42nd in a short span, I'm guessing when you talk about the tough times that's kind of what you were referring to early in the season?
RODNEY CHILDERS:¬† No, I don't think that was the tough times.¬† I think that stuff I actually expected.¬† We had parts and pieces that had never, ever been raced before.¬† We built race cars that had never been tested before.¬† When we started the season, we didn't have a single chassis, a single radiator, a single oil cooler, rear end housing, oil lines, fuel lines, there was non of that stuff that had ever been raced before.¬† Everything that they had raced here at Stewart‑Haas before, we didn't use any of it.
I kind of expected us to have those kinds of problems until we got it all figured out.  But the hard times was building all those race cars and getting that truck and trailer here and outfitting that entire thing and building that pit box and building the toolboxes.  We didn't have a single jack stand.  We didn't have a bench for the shop.  We didn't have anything.  And every bit of that had to be made.
That's been the coolest thing is just to see how hard everybody worked to get all that stuff done, and I think I said this when we showed up at Daytona, it was like, man, I can't believe we're even here.  I can't believe we got all this stuff done.
To be competitive like we were all year was‑‑ I really thought it was going to be June before we really got going.¬† You know, like I said, there's a lot of hard work that got put into it, all of it.

Q.¬† Looking back at the Homestead test that most of the teams went to, how beneficial was that for your team in particular?¬† Do you feel‑‑ would you be as confident going into Homestead this week had you not been able to go there and test?
RODNEY CHILDERS:  I think any test is good.  I can't say that unloading this week we're going to be 50 percent better than what we would have been if we wouldn't have tested.  I don't think that's a true statement.  I feel like our tests went well.  I felt like we had good speed the first day.  I thought we had good speed our first long run of the second day, and then we started trying a lot of different things that second day that we normally don't do, and tried to treat it more like a test and tried to get through some of those things.  Some of it just didn't work, and some of it we couldn't change back until after the test was over with.
You know, I thought it went well, and I think our race team does a good job of going to these tests and digging through all the data and all the changes and making the best out of all of it before we go back.  So I feel like we'll have good speed when we get down there.

Q.  What have you learned in I guess the last 18 months since you've had time to spend with Kevin?  Sometimes we see him as Billy Badass, sometimes we see him as the caring father, devoted husband.  You being a fellow racer yourself and having race cars in the past, what is it that makes him tick?
RODNEY CHILDERS:¬† Yeah, and you know, to be honest with you, I had that same perception of Kevin four or five years ago racing against him every week, and I think a lot of people do, and maybe that perception got out so much in him again that it's still carrying on.¬† But what I've seen the past 18 months is nothing that I ever thought, and it's nothing that I ever read in the media or anything.¬† It's a guy that cares 100 percent about his race team, cares about me, cares about every single person on that team, and you know, as much of a family person as I've ever been around, and I had even people say stuff to me after what happened at Texas and said, oh, we're not pulling for y'all anymore because of what he did, like people have no idea how he really is, and that perception even after Texas is nothing‑‑ not even close to the truth of what Kevin Harvick really is.
He's one of the best guys I've ever been around and cares about all of us and cares about his family and cares about Keelan and the way he's going to be raised and everything else.
I don't know, I mean, it's a lot different than what everybody thinks for sure.

Q.  What about Kevin the competitor?  His competitive spirit is absolutely huge.  What drives him?
RODNEY CHILDERS:  I think just being around all these positive people on the race team and people that want the same things as he does.  He's so competitive, and he wants to work so hard for it, he expects everybody else around him to work just as hard, so when he sees that, it makes him tick.  Like if he knows we're here at the shop and we're doing everything that we could possibly do and giving 110 percent, then he's going to give 110 percent.
I don't think there's one word that you can say that makes him tick or anything like that.  I think that's just being around a bunch of people that want the same things that he wants and the same goals.

Q.  You guys had a crew swap at the beginning of the Chase.  How necessary was that, and has it helped you get here at all, or was that just maybe cosmetic to help the driver calm down?
RODNEY CHILDERS:  I couldn't understand the first part of that.  Was it about the pit crew?

Q.  Yeah, you guys made the swap at the start of the season.
RODNEY CHILDERS:¬† Yeah.¬† No, it was actually a little bit of everybody.¬† You know, it wasn't Kevin's decision, actually, it was everybody's decision.¬† I think going into that deal, we all knew that we needed to do something.¬† We couldn't just let it keep playing out.¬† Our guys had done a really good job all year, but it was the first year together.¬† We had had some ups and downs.¬† We had had problems with pit guns and other things.¬† But overall the crew that was on the 14 had done a good job, also.¬† They'd been in this high pressure situation before, they've won a championship, they've been together, gosh, seven or eight years of jack man, rear changer, rear carrier, so all those guys, they just‑‑ they've been through it, and you've got to do what you think is right for the company.
It really came down to me and Zippy and then Kevin and Brett and talking to Smoke and everything else.  It was a group decision.  It wasn't just, hey, Kevin doesn't like his pit crew and he wants it changed.  It wasn't that way at all.  You know, it was what we all thought was the right thing to do to try to win a championship.

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