Team Preview: JTG Daugherty Racing

NASCAR

Allmendinger will have a new crew chief in 2016. (Photo: Getty Images)

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After a tough 2015 season, JTG Daugherty Racing made some changes as it looks to get back in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with driver AJ Allmendinger.

He finished 22nd in the standings in 2015, one year after making the Chase and finishing 13th in points - both a personal and team best.

"Even in a frustrating year, we built good team chemistry," Allmendinger said. "Because 2015 was a bad year, we found out how close we really were."

Two key additions were announced in December with Randall Burnett being named crew chief and Ernie Cope director of competition. Burnett comes over to JTG Daugherty from Chip Ganassi Racing, where he worked for the past 10 years. Since 2010, he was the lead race engineer for drivers Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Larson.

"Randall is a true racer," Allmendinger said. "At Ganassi, he did everything but crew chief the cars. With that kind of background, it's going to help elevate our team and bring new ideas."

Cope, who was Chase Elliott's XFINITY Series crew chief at JR Motorsports last season, returns to JTG Daugherty Racing - where he served as crew chief for Stacy Compton and Marcos Ambrose in 2006 and 2007. He had a successful six-year tenure with Kevin Harvick, Inc. and Richard Childress Racing prior to joining JRM.

One of the big changes for not only the team but the entire series will be the implementation of a new rules package, which features lower downforce starting at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Teams competed with the low-downforce package last season at Kentucky Speedway (which is in the process of being repaved) and Darlington Raceway.

"The two races we did last year with this rules package were good, but they were at unique racetracks," Allmendinger said. "What we know about Sprint Cup teams is if you give them a challenge, they keep finding (more) downforce to put in the racecars. It's going to depend on how the tire works with the car. NASCAR is doing everything it can to try and make racing better for the drivers and for the fans."

Allmendinger likes what’s been going on at the race shop as the team gets ready for the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

"Guys who've been there a long time with the '47' team say they're farther ahead than they've ever been," Allmendinger said. "I'm looking forward to Daytona and moving forward into the season."

Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of the 58th Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 21, starting at 12 p.m. (ET) – with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.

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