Childers carrying a rekindled fire to Spire Motorsports

Childers carrying a rekindled fire to Spire Motorsports

Rodney Childers didn’t realize he needed a chip on his shoulder until it returned this season while he was working with Josh Berry on the No. 4 team.

“I felt like having Josh in the car was all on my shoulders,” Childers said.

It was Childers who told Stewart-Haas Racing a year ago that he wanted Berry in the car when Kevin Harvick retired. In 10 seasons together, Childers and Harvick tore through the NASCAR Cup Series with 37 wins and a championship. The team carried the banner at Stewart-Haas.

Childers said it took about 15 seconds for Berry’s name to come out of his mouth as the person he wanted as his next driver.

“I needed that to push me harder, to prove to the world that he could do it,” Childers said. “We’ve had good times and bad times, but we’ve had a lot of good runs, and Josh is an amazing person and it’s just been fun. It kind of lit that fire in me again.

“I feel like everybody on the team has been behind him and pushed really hard, and for me, I needed that. I don’t think I realized that last year. But also, we knew over the last two years that Kevin was going to leave, and for me, that was just crushing. He was everything to me, and to have to go through that and know every single week, every day when I was driving to the shop and it’s like, ‘What am I going to do next? What am I going to do without him?’”

Although it took time, Childers finally got over it, got back to work, and being paired with a younger driver like Berry also helped. Childers described Berry as enthusiastic and kids around with the road crew.

“It just brought that fire back, and that’s been fun for me,” Childers said. “Do you want to stay at home and be some kind of shop guy? That’s not me yet. I still get goosebumps when they sing the National Anthem, and I’ve told (wife) Katrina that for a long time. Until I quit getting goosebumps, I’m going to keep doing it.”

And that is what has led Childers to Spire Motorsports.

The organization announced Tuesday that Childers will join the fold next season as the crew chief of the No. 7 team for Corey LaJoie. It is a multiyear deal for Childers, who was approached very quickly by Spire Motorsports president Doug Duchardt after the news that Stewart-Haas Racing is dissolving at season’s end.

Childers appreciated how persistent Spire Motorsports wanted to hire him, and that they had a plan immediately. There were other conversations with other teams, but not many of them materialized into something serious.

“I can’t stand not having a plan,” said Childers. “I want to have a plan and good leadership and have all of that stuff in place. Doug was the first person to send me a contract, and that means something to me. I’ve been around this a long time; if you want someone, tell them that you want them and put a piece of paper in their hand and make something happen. I’m not going to sit around for six months and see if I end up with nothing.”

Another piece was that Childers felt he could stay at Spire Motorsports for many years – perhaps even after his days as a crew chief are over. But that could be a long way off. In the meantime, Childers has big goals for his next team.

“It’s just endless opportunities there to grow,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing for me: I want to see it grow. I want to make something out of it. I want the 7 to be the next 4 car, and somebody that shows up every week and is fast off the track and is competitive and is a leader in the garage.”

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