BRISTOL, Tenn. — Crew chief Rodney Childers will not return to Michael Waltrip Racing next season and informed his crew of his decision Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“There was no one big thing that stood out at all,” Childers said. “Everybody at MWR has treated me great for five years and really has had no issues at all. It’s just a personal decision, and I’ve thought about it for a long time. I just woke up one day and that’s what my heart told me I should do so hopefully it works out.”
Childers is expected to move to Stewart-Haas Racing to crew chief Kevin Harvick next season, but competition director Greg Zipadelli said no contract has been completed with Childers.
“We love Rodney. We think a lot of him, he has been a friend of mine for a while,” Zipadelli said. “We have talked to many people. He is on our radar, but we have no commitments, nothing signed. We would love to make him part of Stewart-Haas, but we are not there yet.”
Childers joined MWR in 2009 after three years at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. He works with Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip and Brian Vickers as crew chief of the No. 55, and has three Sprint Cup victories. His most recent win was with Vickers last month at New Hampshire.
Harvick is joining SHR next year.
It’s not clear if Childers will finish the season with MWR, which gave Mark Martin an early release from his contract this week so that he could fill in for injured Tony Stewart at SHR. It allowed Vickers to get an early jump on next season in the No. 55, and MWR could try to get a crew chief in place for Vickers soon now that Childers has decided he won’t be there next season.
“We’re just going to play it day by day and talk things over and see what’s best for MWR,” Childers said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this team a winning contender when I leave.”