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“I Was Pretty Nervous” – Dale Earnhardt Jr Relives the Moment He Found Out About Tony Stewart’s Iconic Duo

Published 11/16/2023, 7:37 PM EST

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During his racing days, Dale Earnhardt Jr witnessed plenty of surprises in the NASCAR Cup Series. One of those involved the introduction of Tony Stewart’s dashing duo of Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers in 2014. Back then, Stewart-Haas Racing went through a few changes but this one specifically bothered Dale Jr.

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It is not every day that Junior gets tensed up easily. However, back in 2014, when he still used to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, he felt insecure with Harvick and Childers joining hands.

Dale Earnhardt Jr recalls the tense moment involving Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers


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There is no doubt that Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers made a wonderful pairing on the track. Their understanding and fighting spirit made them a delight to watch. In fact, not many driver-crew chief pairings gathered as much praise as the Stewart-Haas Racing duo did.

The duo had quite the debut season in 2014. Surprisingly, that year Harvick and Childers went on a stunning run with five wins, 14 top-five, and 20 top-ten finishes in the season. For a partnership that young, the result achieved was more than phenomenal.


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In fact, Dale Earnhardt Jr understood their threat right away when he came across them in 2014. Speaking about it on SHR’s tribute video for Harvick and Childers, he recollected, “When they got paired up, I was pretty nervous. I was like, man, this could be pretty, they could be tough. We go to Charlotte and we get out there and NASCAR wanted us to simulate some races. So they lined us all up and dropped the flag and I ran as hard as I could.”


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Dale Jr could not remember if he finished second or third in that simulation. But he clearly recalls failing to threaten Harvick and Childers then. Speaking about it, he said, “I could see the leader and it’s Kevin [Harvick] and he’s sitting out there in front of us just running. We couldn’t, none of us got near him. And then they had another 40 lapper and he did the same exact thing.”

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Dale Jr even reached out to his then-crew chief Steve Letarte to express his shock. He said, “‘Did you see this 4 car?’ I was like they are fast. I was like they just paired up. It’s like all new for both of them, new team, new crew chief and they are gonna be tough. And he got in the #4 car and got paired up with Rodney. They’ve had some years that are just ridiculous together and I think you really got to see the real potential of Kevin Harvick.”

It was indeed a partnership to be proud of. Harvick’s retirement is going to hurt Childers but they both have plenty to look back on. One particularly interesting story is about how SHR scouted the 47-year-old crew chief.

Kevin Harvick reveals the truth behind Stewart-Haas Racing signing Rodney Childers

Back in 2013 too, Rodney Childers remained a well-known crew chief. However, getting him on board at Stewart-Haas Racing was a task. Speaking about it to Forbes in 2020, Kevin Harvick said, “We started to court Rodney the year before in 2013. I really liked the way Rodney raced, how he’s hands-on with the car, he had an understanding of the way the engineering side of things worked and he could work with the engineers with his laptop and not at their laptop.”


However, Childers had some reservations about joining Harvick. As the retired SHR driver then said, “Most of the conversations, his biggest concern was he didn’t want to be yelled at on the radio. He didn’t want me getting out and jumping over cars, doing all this stupid stuff I’ve done over the years.”

After discussions went on for weeks, Childers was finally convinced to join Harvick. Back then, Childers said, “To have a guy who can win championships and wants you to work with him is a huge step in the right direction.” Undoubtedly, that decision turned around things for Harvick and SHR.


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The duo went on to achieve big things and can be proud of what they have achieved together. Not many driver-crew chiefs have the chemistry they had. In the end, Dale Earnhardt Jr was right to have felt nervous then.

WATCH THIS STORY: Dale Earnhardt Jr & Kevin Harvick Calls for Stricter Officiating From NASCAR

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Written by:

Priyank Mithani


One take at a time

I was a little kid when Dale Earnhardt said, “The winner ain't the one with the fastest car, it's the one who refuses to lose.” Years have passed and those words could not be more true. Having grown fond of motorsports at a young age, I’m strongly addicted to the adrenaline rush the sport offers.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Ramesh