Three drivers have interim crew chiefs for Pocono
By AMANDA VINCENT
Greg Biffle, A.J. Allmendinger and Kurt Busch will have interim crew chiefs atop their pit boxes for Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., as their regular crew chiefs serve suspensions
handed down by NASCAR because of rules infractions committed the previous race weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Roush Fenway Racing General Manager Robbie Reiser will fill-in as crew chief on the No. 16 RFR Ford team for Biffle for the next two races at Pocono and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The team’s regular crew chief, Brian Pattie, ws suspended for two weeks for multiple rules infractions. Reiser is a former crew chief for Roush Fenway, most notably working with Matt Kenseth, a former RFR driver who has since moved to Joe Gibbs Racing. As a Cup-level crew chief, Reiser has 17 wins, 16 with Kenseth and one in an interim war with another Roush-turned-Gibbs driver, Carl Edwards.
Ernie Cope, Competition Director at JTG Daugherty Racing, will climb atop the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet pit box to serve as crew chief for Allmendinger at Pocono. The team’s regular crew chief, Randall Burnett, is serving a one-race suspension because of a lug nut issue. Cope is in his first year with JTGD. He worked as a crew chief as recently as 2015 for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Most of Cope’s crew chief experience comes from the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series.
Meanwhile, Stewart-Haas Racing team engineer John Klausmeier will fill-in for Tony Gibson on the No. 41 SHR Chevrolet team as Busch’s crew chief. Like Burnett, Gibson is serving a one-race suspension for a lug nut issue at Charlotte.
“I think the way racing is right now, with the big organizations, you’ve got plenty of depth to cover that in a lot of different ways,” Reiser said. “Plus the teams are structured a lot differently than they used to be. It’s not a one-man band anymore; it’s a total team effort.. There are a lot of people that pick up in the areas that one person does. It’s really invisible in a way.”
Also, it is assumed that the aforementioned regular crew chiefs will be in contact with their respective race teams, even though they aren’t allowed to be in attendance at the track.