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Randall Burnett new Allmendinger crew chief, joins Ernie Cope at JTG-D

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400

AJ Allmendinger will have a new crew chief (Randall Burnett) and competition director (veteran Ernie Cope) in 2016.

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JTG Daugherty Racing on Thursday announced that Randall Burnett will take over crew chief duties on the No. 47 Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet driven by A.J. Allmendinger.

This will be the first Sprint Cup crew chief job for Burnett, who was hand-picked for the role by Allmendinger. Burnett joins another new addition to the JTG-D team, competition director and longtime NASCAR crew chief Ernie Cope.

“With both Randall and Ernie coming on board, it gives us more than anything new ideas,” Allmendinger said in a release. “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 in NASCAR – whether it’s late model driver, car chief, engineer, test team, 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.

“Ernie has a ton of experience when it comes to this role from all the years he was at Harvick’s (Kevin Harvick, Inc.) and with the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) alliance. That’s going to help us immediately with having an even better relationship with RCR.”

Burnett comes to JTG-D after 10 years with Chip Ganassi Racing, where he held a number of roles including lead engineer for Jamie McMurray (including wins in 2010 in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400), Juan Pablo Montoya and most recently, Kyle Larson.

Cope spent 2015 as crew chief for 2014 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott. Although he was unable to repeat as champion in 2015, Elliott finished runner-up to champ Chris Buescher with Cope on top of the pit box, earning one win, 11 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes.

Returning to the JTG-D fold will be a homecoming of sorts for Cope, who previously served the organization as crew chief with drivers Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose in 2006 and 2007.

“I worked for JTG Daugherty Racing years ago and when I left, Tad and I stayed in close contact because we knew we would eventually end up back together when the time was right,” Cope said in a release. “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-10 driver.”

Prior to his tenure at JR Motorsports, Cope spent six seasons with both Kevin Harvick Inc., and Richard Childress Racing. He was part of nine Xfinity Series wins, including eight by Harvick.

In 13 seasons, Cope earned 15 wins in the Xfinity Series and nine in the Camping World Truck Series.

“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 percent in my heart that he is going to succeed and I’m going to help him succeed.”

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