The longest tenured driver/crew chief pairing currently in the NASCAR Cup Series garage is that of Harvick and Rodney Childers, and the YellaWood 500 marks Childers‘ 600th race as a Cup Series crew chief. Childers‘ first race as a crew chief came on June 19, 2005 when he guided Scott Riggs to a 23rd-place finish in the Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. In the 599 races leading up to Sunday at Talladega, Childers has worked with eight different drivers, the most recent, of course, being Harvick, where the duo has scored 37 wins and the 2014 championship. It‘s a pairing that will hit 314 races at Talladega, 71 more races than the next longest tenured driver/crew chief partnership in Cup, that of Chase Elliott and Alan Gustafson (242 races). In fact, the Harvick/Childers combo is the eighth longest-tenured driver/crew chief pairing in NASCAR history, putting them in elite company.
Richard Petty and Dale Inman: 905 racesJimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus: 602 racesTony Stewart and Greg Zipadelli: 356 racesDarrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond: 323 racesBill Elliott and Ernie Elliott: 319 racesBrad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe: 317 racesKasey Kahne and Kenny Francis: 316 racesKevin Harvick and Rodney Childers: 313 races
Note: Petty, Inman, Stewart, Waltrip and Bill Elliott are all enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Said Childers about the upcoming milestone: “When you first start in this sport and you‘re trying to work your way up, you just never know where you‘re going to end up and how it‘s going to go and what opportunities you might get. To look back on it and say that you‘ve crew chiefed 600 races in the Cup Series is kind of crazy. Everybody goes through ups and downs and you wonder how it‘s all going to go, and I think everybody knows that my career definitely changed when Kevin wanted me to do this, and to be able to do it for a long time and win a lot of races and all that has been pretty special. I can remember when I was younger, when I first got into this sport, people like Rusty (Wallace) and different people were having their 600th starts, you‘re like, ‘Holy crap, they‘ve done this for a long time.‘ Now it‘s come to fruition for me, and it‘s like, ‘Man, it‘s definitely been a while,‘ but it‘s flown by at the same time. It‘ll definitely be special to be able to do that. I plan on taking my family down there. It‘s kind of weird how it all turned out because Talladega weekend was when the boys were born and I had to jump on an airplane and try to get to the hospital before they were born. It‘s just crazy how all that has worked out and I feel pretty fortunate to be able to do it this long. It just feels like it‘s flown by and you don‘t realize some of the things that you‘ve accomplished and the things that you‘ve done. And I think it‘s just hard to put into perspective of doing anything different, either. It‘s like all I‘ve ever done. It‘s pretty neat to get to that 600 mark, for sure.”
— True Speed Communications —