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Childers won’t be easy for Waltrip Racing to replace

Crew members work on the car of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick during qualifying for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

Crew members work on the car of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick during qualifying for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — From Rodney Childers’ point of view, Stewart-Haas Racing made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Nevertheless, the impending departure of the crew chief of the No. 55 Toyota will leave a major void at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Childers, a well-respected talent in the garage, will serve as Kevin Harvick’s crew chief at SHR next season, leaving MWR with the unenviable task of trying to replace him as Brian Vickers takes the seat of the No. 55 Camry full-time.

“He’s not going to be easy to replace; he’s very, very good at what he does,” Martin Truex Jr., Vickers’ teammate, told the NASCAR Wire Service Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “He’s been a big part of Michael Waltrip Racing, obviously. He was there long before I was. He’s very smart and I really enjoyed my time there working with him, because we did work very closely together with all our teams.

“He brought a ton to the table. It’s going to be hard to replace him for sure, especially this late in the season. He’s definitely a special talent, (but) that’s part of the sport, people change and find things and better opportunities elsewhere, and I wish Rodney the best of luck.

“Hopefully, we’ll find somebody good to fill that position.”

SLOW AND EASY IS THE BEST MEDICINE

Now that Tony Stewart has confirmed he’ll miss the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, he’s committed to taking the necessary time with his rehabilitation program.

Stewart broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg Aug. 5 during a Sprint Car accident in Iowa. Two surgeries later, Stewart is on the mend but willing to take time with his recovery.

“He’s progressively getting better,” said Stewart-Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick, who visited Stewart during the week before the Bristol races. “We were joking about how he has to go to the hospital to get a check-up and how the ambulance comes, and they bring him out on a stretcher. Poor guy. But he was in good spirits and he was definitely of the mind-set that he needs to do it right, and do rehab right.

“You know, they hope that he can be back in January. And if he does, he is like, ‘I don’t need to be back any sooner, so let’s just do this right,’ and I think that is the right attitude. So I think he is in a really good place—as good of a place that you can be with many incisions in your leg.”

THE CURE FOR THE BUBBLE BLUES

Yes, Brad Keselowski was in a precarious position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings entering Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Keselowski started the weekend in eighth place, but only eight points ahead of Kasey Kahne in 11th. Unlike Kahne, the defending Cup champion has no victories this season, and hence no claim to a Wild Card spot.

With three races left — at Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond — before the Chase field is set, Keselowski offered a solution, and an obvious one at that.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but I can speak for me,” Keselowski said. “My feeling is I’m going at it as I’ve got three tracks in front of me that I feel like we can win at, and I would like to win all three of them going in and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything.”

Nothing like a little confidence to combat the stress of fighting for a Chase position.