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This week in NASCAR Childress Teams Struggling

In addition to being owner of a four-car Sprint Cup team, as well as a Nationwide Series operation, Richard Childress owns a winery and a museum near his shop in Welcome. An avid hunter, Childress also was recently elected to the board of directors of the National Rifle Association. Childress’s race team has recently fallen on hard times. Three of his drivers — Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick — made the Chase for the Sprint Cup last year, but only Burton is currently in the top 12. In the past eight races, Bowyer has fallen from second to 16 th in the rankings, and Harvick from 10 th to 26 th . In April, Childress responded by switching the crew chiefs of Harvick and Casey Mears, the fourth driver he added this year to his cup stable. So far, the results have been discouraging. “We just need to fix all of our race teams, and this is the first step,” said Childress. “I’m not above making more changes if that’s what it takes. I’m going to be looking hard at everything. We don’t have a choice. We have to be competitive.” Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven championships driving Childress’s Chevrolets. Childress hasn’t used No. 3 since Earnhardt’s death in a Daytona 500 crash in 2001. This year he added No. 33 for Bowyer, moving Mears to No. 7. “I had a meeting with our whole organization,” said Childress. “Everybody that works on the four race teams was there, and I explained to them that we would make more changes if we had to, and we were going to do what it took to make these cars competitive.” Childress, originally from Winston- Salem, was once a Cup driver himself. Now 63, Childress never won in 285 Cup starts, but finished six times in the top five. His best career finish was a third in Nashville, Tenn., in 1978.

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week (http://nascar.rbma.com) features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at nascar_thisweek@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2009 King Features Syndicate

Car owner Richard childress, right, talks with driver Jeff Burton before a race earlier this season. (Photo: John clark/NAscAR This Week)

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