August 1, 2012
Childers Finds New Team In NASCAR
When Andrew Childers finished his playing career for the Samford football team in 2006, he wanted to find a way to continue his involvement in athletics.
He worked for the Samford athletics department doing video work for his final year on campus, but still had hopes of continuing his career in football. However, after suffering an injury while preparing for the NFL Combines, a former Samford teammate helped him find another career path that would allow him to remain in athletics.
"I tore my hamstring trying to get ready for the combines," Childers said. "And I never really made it back to 100 percent."
R.J. Barnette, Childers' teammate at Samford and his roommate for his final year in school, had worked as an intern for Hendrick Motorsports in one of their pit crews, and he suggested Childers give it a shot as well.
"I made some phone calls," Childers said. "Matt Clark, the coach at RCR (Richard Childress Racing) at the time called me back and said 'why don't you come up after you graduate and we'll just mess around a little bit and see what you've got and go from there.'"
Luckily for Childers, he had an uncle who lived about 30 minutes from the RCR shop, so he was able to live with his uncle when he first started working for the team.
In May of 2009, Childers worked his first race, working for Austin Dillon as his jackman. He worked with Dillon for the rest of that year, working at some truck races and some nationwide races as well.
The following year, in 2010, Childers stayed with Dillon. At the end of that year, Dillon was named Rookie of the Year in the truck series.
"The next year Austin went into truck racing, so I was his jackman for that whole year in the truck series," Childers said. "We won a couple of races and he won Rookie of the Year, so that was a really good year for us."
During the 2011 season, Childers served as the backup jackman for all four of RCR's Cup teams. Then, for the last 10 races of the season, Childers was assigned full-time to Clint Bowyer's No. 33 car.
"I was a backup for three-quarters of the year, and then full-time for the chase," Childers said. "We won Talladega, which was pretty cool, that was my first cup win."
For the 2012 season, Childers' team was assigned to Jeff Burton's No. 31 car. Burton currently ranks 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with 493 points.
In addition to working in the pit crew for races, Childers and his team also compete in the Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge, which is a competition between NASCAR pit crews. The competition lasts five rounds, with the teams seeded one through 24, and the top eight seeds receiving a first-round bye.
"It's just a competition to showcase the pit crews," Childers said. "Basically everybody does their position and then you run down to the car and the whole team pushes the car 40 yards, and whoever crosses the finish line first wins that round."
Childers was on the winning team in the challenge in 2009, and his team made it back to the finals in 2010. In 2012, Childers' team reached the quarterfinals of the competition.
When he is not at a race or competing in the Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge, Childers works in the RCR shop.
"We actually have a pit-stop department, because we have eight or nine teams practicing every day," Childers said. "Me and a couple of the guys take care of the pit cars, keep all of the wheels ready and that kind of stuff."
Childers said that the training to keep in shape for the races and for the competitions is a year-round process. He said they have a pit crew coach and a strength coach they work with the entire year.
"We'll go to practice at 10:00 and we'll practice for like 20 or 30 minutes," Childers said. "And then we'll go work out for about an hour and a half or so. It's year-round. We do pit stops the whole year. "
Childers added that being involved in NASCAR has allowed him to stay competitive even after his football career ended.
"It was the perfect fit for me," Childers said. "This was something that allowed me to stay competitive and use my athletic ability and, obviously, get paid to do it. More than that, it's just the team camaraderie. You don't realize how important it is being a part of a team until you're not on one anymore. It's really special to me to be a part of a team and to still be able to be competitive."