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Tony Stewart's exit: A betrayal to his loyal team or a necessary move for his career?

When Tony Stewart announced that they “have made the difficult decision to close Stewart-Haas Racing,” it sent shockwaves through the NASCAR world. Although they had struggled in recent years, no one expected Stewart to call the curtains on a championship-winning team, at least that soon. But after the shock settled, a reality set in. That many people were going to be out of jobs.

Even though everything with NASCAR affront seems decorated, sometimes the reality behind the scenes can be grim. Particularly for those who built their lives around the sport.

SHR Insider uncovers the painful impact of SHR’s collapse

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Stewart-Haas Racing was undoubtedly having a hard time. Their star drivers, like Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, had retired and the major sponsors had left them. Financial constraints are something they struggled with. Everyone was speculating them to sell a charter or two, but little did anyone going into that conference room know they would walk out with an uncertain future in sight.

Chase Briscoe has been extremely vocal about how he took the news. He said that while he didn’t have an inkling of the team closing, he didn’t waste any time contacting others. Briscoe clearly mentioned that he cannot afford to be without a seat, as he has a family and a wife, who is pregnant with twins. While he has finally gotten what he was looking for at Joe Gibbs Racing, not everyone has been so lucky.

Many members of the team are yet to find a new home in the paddock. While everyone talks about the drivers and their futures, there are not many eyes on the others, like the engineers, the pit crew, and more. Rodney Childers, the crew chief of their #4 team, was, however, not afraid to talk about the sad reality.

In a recent interaction with NASCAR journalist Claire B Lang, he said, There are a lot of people in SHR who still don’t have jobs. There are a lot of people who are just scared. They have families, they have house payments, they have this and that. There is a lot of talk going on. I feel there is a place for everybody. Where that place is is hard to say. I think there’s still a lot of things going on. With all the charters, and all the different things.”

As Childers understands the consequences that will be faced by the SHR crew, he hopes and prays for them to get a great place where they can start fresh. He said, “Hopefully, everybody can end up in a good spot. A spot where they can enjoy and have fun and be around people they wanna be around.”

Wood Brothers Racing, who hired Josh Berry, did not pick Rodney Childers to be alongside him. But lucky for him, the 48-year-old now also has a place to go for the 2025 season.

Kevin Harvick’s former crew chief joins a new team

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Rodney Childers is all set to join Spire Motorsports. He will be the crew chief for Corey Lajoie’s No. 7 Chevrolet, as Spire announced this on July 9. Ahead of the announcement, many expected him to go to Wood Brothers Racing as well. But it seems Spire saw the championship-winning Crew Chief’s potential more clearly. 

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He was with Kevin Harvick for a decade and achieved heights of success with him. He probably courted plenty of offers from other teams too during those times, but he remained with Stewart Haas Racing, and his loyalties lie strong.

Co-owner of Spire Motorsports, Jeff Dickerson, is extremely excited about having Childers on board. And he even stated that hiring Childers was one of the most organic decisions they have made.

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He said, “There are decisions that professional racing teams make daily that take courage, require deep thought, and have some element of rolling the dice. To be clear, this wasn’t one of them. Rodney is a hall-of-fame worthy, championship-winning crew chief with 40 wins.”

As for Childers, he was just as excited to go to a team that as per him has shown so much growth. But what truly helped him make the move was the fact that they invested in people, which makes all the difference in a racing team.