Childers to be Harvick's Crew Chief in 2014
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on August 23, 2013 | 11:30 A.M. EST
Childers has scored three wins with MWR. (Photo: Getty Images)
BRISTOL, Tenn. - Crew Chief Rodney Childers says he will be leaving Michael Waltrip Racing to join Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
After spending five years with MWR, Childers will join SHR to lead Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team. Harvick will join SHR at the end of the year after driving for Richard Childress Racing for 13 seasons.
"Going to SHR and working with Harvick is an opportunity that not many people will ever get," Childers said. "I was afraid that if I didn't take it, I would regret it the rest of my life...It's going to be a lot harder road, building a new team and all new equipment. It will challenge me more and more every day." (Audio)
Childers made his decision this week.
"It's been a very long process, very hard and very emotional," Childers said. "I ended up making the decision a couple days ago and told MWR yesterday. I had to tell all my guys this morning. I pretty much was a mess trying to tell them. This team is the best group of guys that I have ever been around. After being here for five years, it's hard to walk away from that."
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas, says Childers has not yet officially signed with the team.
"We love Rodney we think a lot of him he has been a friend of mine for a while," Zipadeli said. "We have talked to many people. He is on our radar, but we have no commitments, nothing signed. I talked to people yesterday about the opportunity so we would love to make him part of Stewart-Haas, but we are not there yet."
The news of Childers' departure comes a week after MWR announced that Brian Vickers will drive the No. 55 Toyota full-time starting next season. Childers helped guide Vickers to a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month. Vickers will finish this season in the '55' starting this weekend at Bristol for 12 of the last 13 races after MWR granted Mark Martin's release to drive the No. 14 car at Stewart-Haas.
"The part with Brian is the hardest part, even though I didn't get to tell him face-to-face," Childers said. "We had everything planned out to where we could talk last night and then it got to him before I got to talk to him. It's hard on both of us. We've known each other for a long time. I think after a while, it will blow over and hopefully, we'll remain friends like we've always been."
Martin, who is making his first start in the No. 14 this weekend at Bristol, knew the garage would be after Childers because of his talent.
“Rodney Childers is an amazing person," said Martin, who worked with Childers at MWR. "I will say that first and foremost, amazing. He’s very smart and very dedicated and an incredible crew chief. Last year he did a one year contract instead of a long term deal because he wanted to wait to see what transpired after our year together. He wanted to work with me and Brian (Vickers) and Michael (Waltrip) in 2013 and wait and see what 2014 brought."
Childers, who has two additional victories with MWR - with David Reutimann in 2009 and 2010 - remains focused, for now, on the No. 55 team this season.
"All in all, we'll do the best job we can for the rest of the year, or however many races they allow me to do this," Childers said. "They’ve been pretty good about it so far."