Wednesday, December 03, 2014

JR Motorsports Names 2015 Crew Chiefs

JR Motorsports announced today the additions of Dave Elenz and Jason Burdett to its 2015 crew chief lineup. The two newcomers join veteran Ernie Cope to complete the crew chief roster that JR Motorsports will take into the new NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

Elenz will serve as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne’s crew chief on the multi-driver No. 88 team, renumbered from the No. 5 a year ago.  Burdett will serve as Regan Smith’s crew chief on the No. 7 team, allowing Ryan Pemberton to return to his original post as the company’s director of competition.  Both Elenz and Burdett come to JR Motorsports by way of Hendrick Motorsports.  

Cope begins his second season at JR Motorsports, but will transition to the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts team and spearhead Chase Elliott’s defense of his 2014 XFINITY Series championship.  The upcoming season will be Cope’s 13th as a crew chief.  Despite his 14 career victories, this will mark only the second time Cope has been paired with a full-time driver to compete for a championship.

“This group gives us an exciting mix of proven experience, future potential, and new opportunities for everyone involved,” said Earnhardt Jr., owner of JR Motorsports.  “Ernie is one of the best crew chiefs in the business, and yet he’s rarely had the opportunity to compete for a championship.  Now he gets that chance with Chase Elliott.

“Bringing in Dave Elenz and Jason Burdett gives us the opportunity to call up some of the best talent at Hendrick Motorsports and give them a shot at taking the next step in their careers.  That is the sort of foundation on which we built this company, and I’m excited to continue that with two individuals who I feel will have successful careers as crew chiefs in this sport.”

Previously an engineer on both the No. 88 and No. 48 teams at Hendrick Motorsports, Elenz is a native of Gaylord, Michigan, and graduate of Clemson University.  He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 as engineer on Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 team after stints at Jasper Racing (2001-02), Ginn Racing (2003-07) and Red Bull Racing (2009-11).  Elenz spent one year on the No. 88 team before becoming an engineer on Jimmie Johnson’s championship-winning team in 2013.

“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with JR Motorsports,” Elenz said.  “They’ve had a lot of success in recent years.  I look forward to learning from those successes.  To be able to work with the talented drivers we have in the 88 car next year is pretty unbelievable.  I know we’ll be competing for wins each and every week with those drivers.”

Burdett is a native of Arkport, New York.  His 17-year NASCAR career includes eight seasons as a car chief at Hendrick Motorsports for Johnson (2002), Jeff Gordon (2008-10) and Earnhardt Jr. (2011-14).  He also was on Dale Jarrett’s teams at Robert Yates Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing, the latter in which he served as Jarrett’s crew chief for a bulk of the 2007 season.  Burdett played an integral role in Earnhardt Jr.’s four-win 2014 season, in which the team earned a Daytona 500 victory, a Pocono sweep, and a long-awaited Martinsville win.

“There is a lot of excitement surrounding JR Motorsports right now and I’m thankful to be part of it,” Burdett said.  “I’m grateful to Kelley, Dale Jr. and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports who I’ve learned from over the years.  Being able to take this next step with JR Motorsports is a privilege.  I’m looking forward to working with Regan and the entire group next year.”

All three JRM teams will compete in the full 33-race XFINITY Series schedule in 2015.  Elliott and Smith will vie for the driver’s championship, while the No. 88 team will compete for the owner’s championship with multiple drivers.  A full schedule of drivers for the No. 88 team is still being finalized.

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