Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick’s 50th career win at Darlington Raceway on Sunday evening was made extra special given the fact that his crew chief Rodney Childers wasn’t trackside but was instead communicating with his Harvick from his home.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series became the first major US sports league to return to real life racing behind closed doors without fans since COVID 19 global pandemic.
Harvick started the race from fifth place after Kyle Busch was moved to the back of the back for failing tech inspection and had a great race long battle with Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch.
Driving the No.4 Busch Beer Ford, Harvick was great in the pit stops building a commanding lead to take his 50th career win and in doing so has moved to the top of the NASCAR Cup Series points standings.
Speaking to the media following the race, Childers commented saying:
Yeah, I mean, it was a good day for us. We had I guess you’d call it a good car off the truck. We were able to roll through tech first this morning and able to roll it straight to the grid, relax, just think about the race, what the racetrack was going to do over time, the things that we needed to be prepared for, that kind of thing.
We had a good car at the beginning of the race. We thought being a little bit too tight, we had to free it up for a while. We got it pretty good through the middle of the race. The guys on pit road were awesome all day. We had great pit stops. We had one slipup. Got us back there in traffic for one run. Kevin was able to fight back through there just a little bit.
Then we were able to have another couple pit stops and cautions that the guys were able to knock it out of the park and get us back in the lead. That was really key to get us back in clean air, track position, have control of the race.
Childers was asked about the development of the car and about working from home during the race to which he he replied:
I mean, all I can do is judge off of what we did. Like you said, our place was probably more strict than what I wanted to see. They shut the whole place down. As you probably saw, I posted it one day, it was 52 days I sat at home and didn’t go to the shop.
This car was actually our Homestead car from earlier in the year. Honestly it was ready to load and go to Homestead. As y’all know we work pretty far ahead. Atlanta car was on the truck headed to Atlanta, actually sitting in the garage. The Homestead car was done, set up. Everything was done about it.
When we went back to work, Zippy could tell you I wore him out. I kept telling him we weren’t going to get things done with how strict they were being on us, the shifts that we were working. Had my shop foreman and three guys in the shop working. From me sitting at home, I can’t see at the shop what’s happening. All I can do is picture in my head that we’ve got a shop foreman and three guys there trying to prepare a car to get it ready to race. I’m used to having 20 guys in the shop and we work 12 hours a day. He’s got three guys along with him and they’re only allowed to work six hours a day.
Finally 52 days later I got to go by the shop and see the car. Honestly I felt 100% better. Those guys, I have such a great group at the shop that work hard. Dale has been around forever and forever and forever. No matter what car he’s the shop foreman on, it wins races. I think a lot of this is part of him and the guys that he’s assembled at the shop, the guys that he trusts. That’s the biggest thing that I saw out of this weekend.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to the track at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday for the Toyota 500 which will once again be held behind closed doors.