You never know when you’ll cross paths with people you’ll later win a NASCAR Cup Series title with.
But that happened on June 17, 2000 for Kevin Harvick and his future crew chief Rodney Childers and spotter Tim Fedewa.
Their personal narratives intertwined for a weekend at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina, the track the third round of the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge will occur at 7 p.m. ET today
Fourteen years before they were paired on the No. 4 Cup car, they raced against each other in the final Xfinity (Busch) Series race on the .538-mile track.
Harvick was in the middle of his rookie year driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet.
Childers, a veteran winner on the late model circuit, made his first and only Xfinity Series start. He did it in the No. 49 car owned by future Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson.
Tim Fedewa was making one of his 333 career Xfinity starts.
They barely knew each other.
“I did not know anything about Rodney Childers at that particular time,” Harvick said in a media release.
“I knew of Rodney, but I didn’t know him,” Fedewa said in the media release. “But I remember talking with him at Myrtle Beach that weekend. I think that was the first time I ever talked with him.”
“I knew who they were,” Childers recalled in the media release. “About that time, Kevin was going to be moving up to run some Cup races and they needed somebody to run the races he couldn’t run, and I was actually trying to talk to them about running those races.”
They each have varying recollections of the race weekend, but Childers said he remembers “everything about it.”
“I started driving for (Robinson) that year and we were racing in what is now called the CARS tour. We went to the first six races and won all of them.”
After being asked to leave the series due to their dominance, Robinson eyed the Busch Series and purchased a car at an auction.
Their team that showed up at Myrtle Beach team consisted of only three people.
“We went out for qualifying and there were (47 cars) there for the race,” Childers recalled. “Everybody had been picking up on their second lap, so I was going to take it easy on my first lap and get after it on my second lap. Well, my first lap, I was actually quick enough for 30th out of 57. My second lap, I buried it in the corner and got loose. Threw the lap away.”
It wasn’t far into the 250-lap race that Childers discovered his car wasn’t up to snuff.
“About Lap 10, I found out I didn’t have any brakes,” Childers said. “But we were just riding around there and Randy LaJoie and Jeff Purvis got together in Turn 1. Everyone was checking up and Blaise Alexander was in front of me and he turned down into my right front because someone turned into him. I jerked the wheel to the left, but got hit and the next thing I knew I was nosed into the inside wall in Turn 1.”
Childers would finish last in his only Xfinity start, but he doesn’t mind.
“To be able to make the race with that many cars was actually a huge accomplishment,” Childers said. “There were a lot of people back then that were missing Busch races.”
Not among those missing races were Fedewa and Harvick.
For Fedewa, he was competing in his eighth Myrtle Beach race.
“You forget the level of competition,” Fedewa said of the 2000 race. “I ran between 13th and 10th and I can’t believe how hard it was to even get to 10th.”
Fedewa was involved in two wrecks. The last, a one-car incident, took him out on Lap 197. He finished 38th.
“You probably had 45 good teams that were just racing in the Busch Series,” Fedewa said. “Maybe they didn’t run all of them, but they ran most of them. The short tracks, it was doable for a late model team to buy a car and compete. Because we didn’t have wind tunnel time, a short track team could buy a car or build a car, go to Myrtle Beach and make the show.”
As for Harvick, he started on the front row with Jeff Green and would lead the initial 25 laps in his first and only visit to the track.
“Going there for the first time, I didn’t have the right concept of what I was supposed to be doing with saving tires and stuff like that. I was hammer down all the time,” Harvick said.
The only other thing that Harvick remembers is “I jacked (Green) up at one point just trying the mess with him because that’s just what we did back in those days. Jeff and I went back and forth during the 2000 and 2001 time period. He was sort of the guy at that point, and I wanted to be the guy. I thought running into him was the best way to get the most attention. Obviously, in the today’s world, you realize that beating him would’ve been much better.”
Harvick finished second to Green, who claimed one of his six victories on the way to a championship.