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AJ Allmendinger will have a new crew chief and JTG Daugherty Racing will have a new director of competition as Randall Burnett and Ernie Cope have joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series organization.
The team made the announcement Thursday via news release.
Burnett previously served as lead race engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing, working with drivers Jamie McMurray (2010-12), Juan Pablo Montoya ('13) and Kyle Larson ('14-15). It will be his first stint as crew chief. In total, Burnett spent 10 years at Chip Ganassi Racing, where he also served as a 7-post analysis engineer, a lead team engineer and a data acquisition engineer.
"I know the quality of work they do and the level they hold themselves to," Burnett, a native of Fenton, Missouri said. "Also, working with AJ is going to be exciting for me. We kind of grew up with the same background. AJ obviously had a tremendous amount of talent and is very passionate and very vocal about his passion."
Burnett, a former Late Model racer, received a mechanical engineering degree from UNC Charlotte.
"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," Allmendinger said, "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."
The 2016 season will be Allmendinger's 10th, and his third (full-time with JTG) since taking over the No. 47 entry. He scored his first career victory in 2014, winning at Watkins Glen and earning a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He subsequently finished 13th in points, his best points finish to date.
Burnett replaces the team’s former crew chief, Brian Burns.
For Cope, it will be a reunion of sorts. The Tacoma, Washington native served as a crew chief in 2006-07 for the team’s drivers, Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose, in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. In 2015, he guided Chase Elliott to the runner-up honors in the XFINITY Series this past season while at JR Motorsports. He also has led Kevin Harvick to 12 wins in the series.
Cope, 46, will oversee development of the cars how they are built, and will likely work closely with Richard Childress Racing officials, with whom JTG Daugherty Racing has a technical alliance.
"I'll make sure … Randall has exactly what he needs to be competitive," Cope said. "It's going to be his first shot at being crew chief and he's the right guy for the position.
"I feel 100 percent in my heart that he is going to succeed and I'm going to help him succeed."
Allmendinger failed to make this year's 16-team Chase field, and finished 22nd in points. An accomplished road racer, he scored poles at both NASCAR road-course stops this past season, starting out front at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.