By AMANDA VINCENT
A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will have a new crew chief in 2016. Randall Burnett will be the crew chief on the No. 47 team, while Ernie Cope will take on the position of JTG Daugherty Racing Director of Competition, according to a press release from the race team on Thursday.
“With both Randall and Ernie coming on board, it gives us, more than anything, new ideas,” Allmendinger said. “Ernie has a ton of experience when it comes to this role from all the years he was at Harvick’s (Kevin Harvick Inc.) show and with the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) alliance. That’s going to help us immediately with having an even better relationship with RCR. Then, what I really like about Randall is that, even though he hasn’t been a crew chief, he’s done every role you can ask for, whether it’s as a driver, car chief, engineer, test team or building race cars. I think we are going to speak the same language pretty quickly. I know his knowledge is going to help us. I really look forward to getting the year kicked off and seeing where we are at as a team.”
Burnett has been with Chip Ganassi Racing the last 10 years. Most recently at CGR, Burnett filled the position of team lead engineer, working with both the No. 1 and No. 42 Chevrolet teams there. In that role, Burnett worked with drivers including Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson and Juan Pablo Montoya.
“This cam together quickly,” Burnett said of his new deal with JTG Daugherty. “When I met with A.J. and Tad (Geschickter, team owner), we just hit it off, and I’ve always wanted to help a team grow into something bigger. There are a lot of good people here and some of which I’ve worked with before. I know the quality of work they do and the level they hold themselves to, bringing a lot of good things to the company. Also, working with A.J. is going to be exciting for me. We kind of grew up with the same background.”
Cope’s acceptance of the Competition Director position marks a return to JTG Daugherty Racing. He was a crew chief with the team in 2006 and 2007, working with drivers Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose. In the time since, he’s worked at Kevin Harvick Inc., Richard Childress Racing and JR Motorsports, spending time in both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck series. The last two seasons, Cope was crew chief for Chase Elliott at JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, guiding Elliott to a championship in 2014 and a second-place finish in the championship points standings in 2015.
“As Competition Director, I’ll oversee the car development and production process, look after the budget and made sure we have everything we need in the right areas and get the most out of what we have,” Cope said.
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