Rodney Childers deciding to stay atop the No. 4 pit box for Stewart-Haas Racing came down to who was going to succeed Kevin Harvick in 2024.

“If it wasn’t the right person, I don’t know if I would have done it anymore,” Childers said Wednesday as Josh Berry was introduced to the team. “And I’ve said that a lot over the last 10 years; it would be hard to replace what I’ve had with Kevin . The relationship we’ve had is just crazy special.”

Childers and Harvick joined Stewart-Haas in 2014, and it was Harvick who made the call about whom he wanted as his crew chief. Childers then built the No. 4 team from scratch, guiding it to a championship in its first year.

To date, Childers and Harvick have won 37 points races in the NASCAR Cup Series. But after 23 years at the Cup Series level, Harvick is retiring at season’s end.

“We laugh about it, but the amount of conversations that we have and text messages and all that, everyone thinks we kid about it, but it’s way more than you can imagine,” said Childers. “So, for me, it needed to be someone who I felt like we could win races. Somebody that I can have fun with it and go to dinner and talk about late models and talk about racing, and have intelligent conversations about life and geometry on race cars. Somebody that understands that kind of stuff.

“All of that was super-important to me. I think everybody knows I’m a racer, and I’ll do it as long as I can do it, but as you can see, my kids are as tall as me now, and I’ve had them on the backburner their whole life. There are certainly weeks that I wonder what’s right. Is it spending more time with them, or is it providing a good life for them? Right now, I want to win races with Josh Berry, and obviously, I want to win races with Kevin Harvick the rest of the year.

“But it was definitely having someone like him and someone I believe in through thick and thin is really important.”

Childers is a Berry fan because of their common background in short-track racing. Childers has watched Berry dominate on short tracks all across the country over the years.

When it came time to start making a list of Harvick’s replacement, it wasn’t a long one for Stewart-Haas Racing. Berry was the top choice, and the organization put all their eggs in the basket of trying to sign him.

Having the support of Childers in the process was the way “it has to be,” said co-owner Tony Stewart. Childers has been a Cup Series crew chief since 2005, becoming one of the most decorated in the series.

“The crew chief has buy into who he’s putting in that car, especially when you’ve got someone like Rodney, who’s had a championship-caliber driver from day one with Harvick,” said Stewart. “You go to replace that driver, if Rodney’s not 100% all in on that driver, it’s not going to matter. It could take years to develop that relationship like Rodney had mentioned. No one person makes a decision at Stewart-Haas Racing, we do it as a group, and Rodney was a very big part of that. He has built an iconic program at Stewart-Haas Racing with that 4 car, and to continue that, his input probably weighed more than any of us.”

It turns out Childers had a lot of say in who would be his next driver.

“They walked in my office one day, and they had a little bit of a list, and Josh was at the top of it,” Childers said. “Somebody said they had talked to (Stewart) the night before, and he said he was going to stay out of it for the rest of it, and it was up to Rodney. I was like, ‘call Josh today.’ I would rather have the ball in my court; I always have been that way. I would rather just do things the way I want to do them, and if I’m going to be the guy in charge, I want to be in control of it. For them to finally just walk in there and say it’s up to me for the final choice, it was really cool and meant a lot.

“I think that tells you what they think about me, and they want me in the company for a long time. That was really cool.’

Berry will join Stewart-Haas with limited Cup Series experience. He made two starts in substitute roles in 2021 and did the same earlier this year for two different Hendrick Motorsports drivers.

It’ll be a nice change of pace for Childers to be somewhat of a teacher again. For the last 10 years, Childers has worked with an experienced veteran in Harvick, who doesn’t need much from his crew chief.

“I have to admit, as much as I hate to say this, it’ll be a little bit refreshing,” Childers said. “That’s the part I was good at in my younger years as a crew chief. I knew what the car was doing before they would ever say anything.

“A lot of times between myself and (spotter) Timmy , we try not to say too much to Kevin because it can make him frustrated. But the younger guys are the opposite of that. They just want to take all stuff in, especially now with SMT and all the data that you have. You can tell him that somebody is driving it in the corner harder, they’re arching more, they’re turning the wheel further. All those things. Somebody like Josh is going to soak it in.”

Childers thinks Berry is going to be blown away by the amount of information he can get, even if he got a taste of it in role with Hendrick Motorsports.

“Kevin is just on it, all day and every day,” Childers said. “Nobody has any idea how hard that guy works, and to have somebody like him that I can call throughout the next few years any day and any time. Josh can do the same thing. All of it’s going to be important, but being able to say certain things may be refreshing also.”