Childress says more changes possible
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Sprint Cup team owner Richard Childress said this week's swap of crews and crew chiefs between two of his cars is only a first step and could lead to other change at Richard Childress Racing.
Crew chief Todd Berrier and his crew will move from Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet to the No. 07 Chevy that Mears drives. Gil Martin and the No. 07 crew will switch over to Harvick.
"I'm not above making more changes if that's what it takes," Childress said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. "This goes pretty deep. We're not only doing this for these two race teams, but other things at RCR as well. We're looking hard at everything. We don't have a choice."
Eight races into the 2009 season, Harvick ranks 16th in the standings and Mears ranks 22nd. The top-12 drivers make the Chase playoff for the final 10 events that begin in September.
"In today's environment you can't wait halfway through the season," Childress said. "You can't afford to lose 50 to 75 points every race. You have to make changes to make the Chase. We only have so many races." Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, the other two RCR drivers, rank in the top 12. Bowyer is sixth and Burton is 11th.
"I had a meeting with all four race teams," Childress said. "I told them we would make more changes if we need to in order to be competitive."
Burton said he supports Childress and believes RCR needs to get better.
"We don't have glaring things that we're doing wrong," said Burton, the most experienced RCR driver at age 41. "But we need to get better in every area that touches these race cars.
"It's not for a lack of effort, desire or funding. It's just little things in all areas. You get a little behind and it's hard to catch up. We are a really good race team, but not a great race team."
RCR hasn't won a Cup title since 1994 when Dale Earnhardt Sr. won his seventh championship.
Childress said he first starting looking about possible changes after the race at Bristol, Tenn., on March 21.
"Then after Martinsville [March 28] I wasn't happy," he said. "The next week, I walked right out of the race track at Texas knowing I was going to make a change. I just needed to know which ones to make."
Childress went on a hunting trip to Montana and contemplated what direction he wanted to go.
"Sitting in the mountains I had time to clear my head and determine what was best," he said. "I made up my mind on it. We owe it to our sponsors and our fans to run better than we are. I think this is what's best for our organization."
Childress made an interesting analogy, comparing the crew swaps to a divorce.
"Sometimes when a man and woman get a divorce they both think they were giving 100 percent," Childress said. "But the first thing she wants to do is get in a tanning bed and lose 30 pounds. And he gets rid of his gut."
In other words, you start doing more than you were doing before the change.
"These are both great race teams," Childress said. "Gil Martin and his team finished in the top five in the points the last two years [with Bowyer]. Kevin finished fourth last year in the points with the 29 team. "But sometimes a little change in chemistry can make a big difference," Childress said. "A driver and a crew chief get a little bit off and you need to make a move.
"This sport is no different from football or baseball. When things aren't working, the toughest decisions have to come from the coaches or owners. If you let things stay still too long it will hurt your whole organization."
Childress said an in-season change always is risky, but he felt these moves were worth the risk.
"It probably will take two or three races to get this going in the right direction," he said. "But I think you're going to see a difference."
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com.
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