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.”

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