Ibristol Notebook:/I Saturday

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Richard Childress has been through a rough year, but the team he started in 1981 continues to flourish.

The front row of Saturday’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was filled with Childress cars, and Kevin Harvick leads the NASCAR Busch Series points standings and has two Winston Cup victories in RCR cars.

“I can’t imagine how it would have been for all of us at RCR to have gone out and struggled on the competition side of the sport,” Childress said Saturday in an impromptu question-and-answer session in the infield media center. “Leaving Daytona, I didn’t know if I wanted to even see another race (after the death of Dale Earnhardt). I just lost my best friend and didn’t know what I wanted to do.

“But we knew after talking with the guys at the shop, we knew we had to go forward. That’s what Dale would have wanted us to do. If anything, it’s given every one of us more drive to do it for him.”

Friday night, Childress witnessed some tangible proof of his team’s labor. Harvick won the Food City 250 Busch Series race, Childress’ 100th NASCAR victory, after going two laps down early in the race.

“There’s been a lot of tears,” Childress said. “And it’s been a lot of fun doing it. To win 100 is just unbelievable. I know it hasn’t been 100 Winston Cup races, but it is significant to win 100 NASCAR races. If you’d have asked me that in ‘81 when I got out of the car, it’s something I never dreamed of. Those 100 wins came from a lot of people, a lot of dedication, a lot of great sponsors. That’s why RCR has got those wins. It’s not Richard Childress, but I’m pleased to be a part of it.”

Childress’ team has undergone a lot of transition in 2001, and more is on the way. When Earnhardt was killed in the Daytona 500, Harvick replaced him in the car, and the number was changed to 29 from 3. Also this year, Childress announced the addition of Jeff Green to his driver lineup in 2002 (in the No. 30 car) and the firing of Mike Skinner (from the No. 31) at the end of the 2001 season.

“It’s hard for me sometimes to look out there and pick out the No. 29 car,” Childress said. But we’re beginning to make that transition and make it work. … It’s been good. It’s been good for RCR and what we have planned for the future. It’s growing. And if you sit still, and don’t grow with it, it will pass you.”

That’s why Childress expanded to three teams. He doesn’t want to get left behind in the multi-car war. Roush Racing has four cars, Hendrick Motorsports has three and Penske Racing is expanding to three in 2002.

“We’ve really got some good plans,” said Childress, who added that he hasn’t signed a replacement for Skinner despite rumors Robby Gordon has a three-year deal. “We’ve worked hard at this all year. Actually, Dale was the one that helped convince me to go to a three-car team. We talked about this when he did his third Winston Cup team.

“He tried to get me to do it last year. But we weren’t ready at RCR to take that step. He helped me decide…we don’t want to be sitting here like we were in 1992 or ‘93 with one car if it takes three to do it. We want to be on the cutting edge of it. And we want to set the grounds for how good you can do it with three.”

One of those three cars might bear No. 3 next year.

“We’re planning on making any announcements regarding the No. 3 sometime in the near future,” Childress said. “We can’t go there right now, but that will be an issue that we’ll handle before the year is over or by the end of the year.”

Sour Milk?
Kevin Harvick and Jeff Green were Richard Childress Racing teammates Saturday night, but they were darn close to being enemies after Friday’s Busch Series Food City 250. Green was upset at Harvick’s not-so-gentle nudge late in the race that sent Green skittering up the track and allowed Harvick to pass.

“He had better tires than I did at that time,” Green said. “He was going to pass me if he just used a little patience. I don’t think he has that in his vocabulary.”

Harvick’s response? “He should know by now I’m not very patient,” Harvick said. “I thought he learned that last year. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

“I guess he drank too much chocolate milk and his stomach hurt.”

Childress called it a “racing incident” and said he hadn’t planned on talking to Green or Harvick about it.

“I’ve dealt with that now for about five or six years,” Childress said of issues between teammates. “It’s one of those deals where maybe the shoe will be on the other foot (in the Winston Cup race), and that would be a good problem to have. But these guys get over it. I used to race and I know how the tempers can get lost a little.”

As for potential problems next year, Harvick said there wouldn’t be any.

“This is 2001; that’s 2002,” Harvick said. “We’re racing for a championship. We’re teammates tomorrow. Circumstances will be different (Saturday), but (Friday) he’s on the other side of the fence.”

Harvick couldn’t have been more correct. After leading the first 69 laps, Green was involved in the race’s fourth caution. After Brett Bodine spun Johnny Benson, Green tried to slow but got in the back of Joe Nemechek, damaging Green’s radiator.

Where did Green go? On the other side of the fence.

“The lapped cars won’t give you a break,” Green said. “They’re racing just like the rest of us.”

Change of Colors
Mike Skinner, who started beside Green on the front row, was involved in two cautions. In the first, on Lap 90, Skinner was belted by Robert Pressley. In the second, he was smacked by Brett Bodine and hit the inside wall in the backstretch.

“I think I need to get another color of underwear,” a frustrated Skinner said.

Not the Bodines Night
Three Bodines qualified for the Sharpie 500, and all three were involved in yellow flag incidents in the first 150 laps. Brett Bodine was in three – the second, fourth and sixth cautions – Todd Bodine one – the eighth – and Geoffrey Bodine – the ninth

Chaplain in GQ
MRO chaplain Dale Beaver will appear in the December issue of the men’s fashion magazine GQ.

“The reason I took the GQ story was it was an opportunity for me, not to only talk about the ministry that goes on here, but overall was to be able to share my faith with a group of men who read this magazine who may not have a faith at all,” Beaver said. “The majority of people who will pick up this magazine won’t be picking it up for spiritual content.”

Veteran writer Peter Richmond is doing the story, and Beaver said he is “enamored with his writing,” That’s another reason why Beaver did the story.

For the record, he didn’t do it because he’s a fashion plate.

“That’s not why they did the story at all,” Beaver said. “The reason they did the story was for the human-interest perspective and not the fashion perspective. I can promise you, I’m not setting any kind of standards. You’re not going to see me in its fashion pages any time soon. I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

Nice Aroma at Lowe’s
The Oct. 6 Busch Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will be sponsored by Little Trees air freshners.

“Little Trees air fresheners are among the most recognized products in the world, and stock car racing plays a key role in the company’s marketing,” track president H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said. “The addition of the Little Trees 300 will further develop the relationship between Little Trees and NASCAR racing in the minds of consumers.”

Little Trees also sponsors Mike Olsen’s Busch North Series team, a Busch North race at Watkins Glen International and is involved in the DIRT modified series in New York.

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