Richard Childress, team owner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR), comments on the Crew Chief and Crew swap between the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and the No. 31 (Robby Gordon, Cingular Wireless Chevrolet): What was the final...
Richard Childress, team owner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR), comments on the Crew Chief and Crew swap between the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick, GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and the No. 31 (Robby Gordon, Cingular Wireless Chevrolet):
What was the final straw that made you come to this decision?
"It's been made for a while, it's just been trying to find the right time and the right place that would be most convenient for everybody. We had a few things to get behind us. We've just got to make changes. It's time, when things don't happen right and you're not performing. We're in the performance business. You've got to start looking. I see good positive things with Jeff Green's team (No. 30 AOL Chevrolet). They are constantly getting better and better. Looking at the mix of people, I think this could be our best fix.
"Robby would be hooked up with Kevin Hamlin, who has tons of experience in Winston Cup. Gil Martin has been able to work with Kevin Harvick in the past in Busch. They were working back and forth with Todd Barrier (Green's crew chief). I think that could be a good combination too. I'm not above making more changes if it isn't better. We're going to do what it takes to get these cars back to running the way they're supposed to."
When do you know when to make a change?
"Well, you don't. I looked at a third of the season and I wasn't happy with the performance we were having. I'll probably look at it again at another third of the season and see where we're at then. We've just got to keep changing until you get the right combination. We've been in this sport too long to not know you've got to make changes sometime to make things happen."
Have all the crew members made this change?
"Not all of them, but most of them. I gave the guys the option - some of them on the No. 29 - but most of them elected to go. Chocolate, who has been a spokesperson for RCR for the last three or four years and is our safety director, and who is a gasman on Sunday, decided to just go with the guys he's been working with and gas the No. 31.
"Right now, in mid-season, it's a lot easier doing that than it would be to let the crew chiefs start picking and changing (crew members). These guys have a good working relationship. For some reason it just wasn't working on the No. 29 car. I think we can get Robby (No. 31) some more help. He's doing a super job. I'm just proud of what he's done and I think you can see the progress he's made. This has been his best opportunity and he's proved it."
On Roush making similar changes last season
: "No, but I look back at the changes that we made in mid-season with Larry McReynolds and Kevin Hamlin and that really worked. It changed our whole season and we came out and had a whole different year. Hopefully, these changes will help us all out this year. We've got a long way to go this year. We're not out of it. We can still get these cars up in the top 10."
Do you think Kevin Harvick needed a fresh start to this season?
"I think so. Last year was a tough and trying year. I could see some problems the last eight or nine races with the No. 29 car. We weren't performing like I felt we should. He was running for the Busch championship and I felt that once we got that and the winter behind us, things would get better. But I haven't seen improvement and it's time to change."
Was it just that the chemistry wasn't there?
"I don't know if its just chemistry or that things just weren't working. There are three kinds of people in the world. There are people that watch things happen, people that make things happen, and people that wonder what the heck happened."
Why did you decide to swap with the No. 31 instead of the No. 30?
"This hasn't happened in the last week or the last month. I've talked to Todd Barrier and Jeff Green about this even before the season started. But Jeff and Todd have got something special. Throw out a few back luck days and they could have won a race or two this year. They lost an engine at Rockingham and (yet) let the most laps. I see so much potential. We talked about it. I met with all of them. Robby Gordon is such a team player he said he'd do whatever would make this organization better. He's in it for the long haul at RCR. He feels good about having Kevin Hamlin (as crew chief) just for his depth of experience. But at the end of the day, it's going to be better for all of us."
How tough was this for some of the veteran crew guys that have been with the No. 29 - former No. 3 - for so long?
"Well, it's tough on me, it's tough on everybody. You've just got to make those changes and do what you do."
Are you changing cars and motors too, or just people?
"We're going to change a little bit of everything. We're probably going to switch out the road course cars. We've got three brand new cars that aren't painted yet. We're going to let the crew chiefs pick and choose what they want there. We're having to build some new speedway cars since we tore them up in Talladega, and we're letting them pick and choose there too. But the rest of the cars, will probably stay as they with the teams."
When do you expect to see some positive results?
"I don't know, I hope instantly. But there's no magic in this. We'll just have to see based on the different tracks and all. Hopefully they'll get what they want right off."
Are the cars basically the same?
"Yes, probably 70 percent of them. Some of the cars are a carryover from Harvick's deal. But all the newer cars are exactly the same for all three teams.