HARRISBURG, N.C. – official team release — Gregory Shamus/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
JTG Daugherty Racing welcomes two exceptional leaders with the recent addition of Ernie Cope as Director of Competition and Randall Burnett as Crew Chief of the No. 47 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry driven by A.J. Allmendinger.
“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.) shop 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 (Late Model), 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.”
Cope returns home to JTG Daugherty Racing, transitioning from JR Motorsports where he was crew chief for 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott. In 2015, Elliott collected one win, 11 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes and finished runner-up in the championship standings with Cope at the helm.
“I worked for JTG Daugherty Racing years ago and when I left, Tad (Geschickter) and I stayed in close contact because we knew we would eventually end up back together when the time was right,” Cope said. “In between there, it worked out good because I got a lot of experience with big teams, won a lot of races and learned things that will help us here. I see the atmosphere that Tad has built and I wanted to be a part of that. We’ve got a good group of people and I think if we put the whole package together for AJ, he will go out there and compete on a weekly basis. I honestly think he is a top top-10 driver.”
Before Cope’s time at JR Motorsports, his journey included six seasons working with Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) and Richard Childress Racing (RCR). He racked up nine victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS), including eight with Harvick. During his tenure at KHI in the NXS, he also led teams to 79 top-five and 120 top-10 finishes. Over 13 seasons, Cope earned 15 victories in the NXS and nine in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
During his time at JTG Daugherty Racing, Cope was a crew chief with drivers Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose in 2006 and 2007. Before that, he was a driver himself competing in the NASCAR Southwest Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (two wins), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and he also made an appearance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Now, the Tacoma, Washington-native will be responsible for base product development and all car production-based operations.
“As the competition director, I’ll oversee the car development and production process, look after the budget and make sure we have everything we need in the right areas and get the most out of what we have,” Cope said. “I’ll make sure our new crew chief, Randall, has exactly what he needs to be competitive. It’s going to be his first shot at being a crew chief and he’s the right guy for the position. I feel 100% in my heart that he is going to succeed and I’m going to help him succeed.”
Burnett was hand selected by Allmendinger and JTG Daugherty Racing team officials to lead the team as they vie for a coveted spot in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase.
“This came together quickly,” Burnett said. “When I met with AJ and Tad, 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 AJ is going to be exciting for me. We kind of grew up with the same background. AJ obviously has a tremendous amount of talent and is very passionate and very vocal about his passion.”
CREDIT: JTG Daugherty Racing