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Kevin Harvick knows how to push his team members’ buttons … and his crew chief does, too

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Kevin Harvick’s public displeasure with his pit crew (most notably after a slow stop cost him the Southern 500 last season) has been well-documented.

Less well known is how normally mild-mannered crew chief Rodney Childers also can get upset with his No. 4 team’s performance.

That was evident when Harvick qualified outside the top 10 after reaching the final round of a playoff race last fall.

Childers wasn’t amused, as he explained on Wednesday’s episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast.

“I threw my chair and did everything (Harvick) would have done and may have even have acted like Kurt Busch for a minute,” Childers said with a laugh during the podcast. “But it’s just because we all care. If you don’t care, you aren’t going to make it. We have a good relationship like that.”

In an interview last October at NASCAR Plaza, Harvick told a group of reporters that he has “no problem pushing the buttons” of team members to motivate performance.

“I’m going to push everyone’s buttons,” Harvick said. “I’d expect them to push my buttons. That’s a mutual respect we have with the team.”

Childers confirmed he knows how to push his driver’s buttons and does when necessary.

“He knows when I’m mad without saying anything,” Childers said. “If I get quiet, something’s wrong.

“If I told him he’s getting beat in the corner or not getting in hard enough, he believes me. It’s nice to have that relationship.”

Despite the occasional public berating, Childers said Harvick “cares more about his pit crew guys than any driver I’ve been around. He’ll send texts to those guys, take them places. All this stuff, all the time.”

The No. 4 team won an intrasquad pit crew competition at Stewart-Haas Racing last week, posting stops in the 10.5- to 11-second range.

“We’ve got the right players,” Childers said. “We made a change later in the (2016 season) that fixed most of our (pit crew) problems, but it comes down to a company thing. We’ve been behind on parts and pieces. … You could see at the end of the year, pull up (pit) stops from Homestead, it was impressive. They’ve proved they can beat everybody on pit road if the guns stay with them. We made huge improvements over the winter.”

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

Kyle Busch wins pole for Truck Series race at Atlanta

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Kyle Busch won the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his second Truck Series pole at the track.

Driving his No 4. Toyota, Busch put down a top speed of 179.743 mph.

Matt Crafton qualified second with a speed of 179.220 mph.

“My lap was pretty good, certainly felt more stuck (to the track) the first time around than the second time around,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “We even picked up a little bit of time on that second one. … We were really, really tight here last year and made some good changes to it through the offseason with notes and things and coming back here better prepared.”

The top five is completed by Noah Gragson (179.214), Spencer Davis (178.862) and Justin Haley (178.775).

Gragson and Davis give Kyle Busch Motorsports three of the first four starting spots.

Johnny Sauter, who won last week at Daytona, will start ninth.

Busch’s pole is his second of the weekend. He also won the pole for Sunday’s Cup Series race.

The Active Pest Control 200 begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Christopher Bell on Xfinity pole at Atlanta

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Rookie Christopher Bell qualified first for Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 181.176-mph lap in his No. 20 Toyota.

it’s the second pole in 10 starts for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Joey Logano was second in his No. 22 Ford, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the Xfinity Series qualifying results and click here for the Xfinity lineup by row.

The Xfinity race will start at 2:16 p.m. ET, starting a doubleheader with the truck series at Atlanta.

Sunday’s Atlanta race moved to 1:06 p.m. ET start with threat of weather

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HAMPTON, Georgia – The threat of inclement weather has moved up the start of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by an hour.

NASCAR announced Saturday morning that the green flag will fall on the second race of the 2018 season at 1:06 p.m. ET.

Races become official after the second stage. The second stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race will end on Lap 170 of 325.

The wunderground.com site calls for an 80 percent chance of rain Sunday with the forecast worsening from 10 a.m.

Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson top list of drivers docked practice

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both will be held during the final Cup Series practice Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Because his No. 78 Toyota failed to clear prequalifying inspection three times Friday, Truex will miss the final 30 minutes of the 80-minute session that will begin at noon ET. Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet will be out for the last 15 minutes because it failed the new Optical Scanning Station twice.

Harrison Rhodes also will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding Jr., Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt each will miss 15 minutes because they were late to qualifying inspection.

NASCAR changed its policy on how practice holds will be conducted this season. Instead of serving the penalty in the pits at the start of the session, drivers will park their cars for the length of the penalty up until the end of the session.