JR Motorsports announced on Monday that veteran crew chief Ernie Cope will work with Chase Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team in 2015.
“It became clear rather quickly that the absolute best option for Chase and the NAPA team next year is already in this building,” General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said. “Ernie builds fast cars, has a good rapport with Chase, and is familiar with the inner-workings of our company. Hopefully that will create a seamless transition at the end of the year, and the No. 9 team will continue its championship form right into 2015.”
Elliott is working with Greg Ives this year as the pair lead the Nationwide Series points standings with three wins. It was announced last month that Elliott’s current crew chief Greg Ives will be crew chiefing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015 at Hendrick Motorsports as Steve LeTarte moves on to the NBC Broadcast booth.
Cope, who currently crew chiefs the No. 5 team effort featuring Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr., has more than 12 years of experience as a NASCAR crew chief. So far this year, Cope has le Harvick to a pair of victories, while scoring Kahne a victory at Daytona in July. Cope previously worked with Harvick at Richard Childress Racing.
“Kevin and I have enjoyed a lot of success, and we’re not done yet,” the Washington native said. “There is a lot of racing left this year, but in putting the pieces together for 2015, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete the full race schedule. I’ve been able to do that only once, and that was in 2011 with Elliott Sadler when we finished second in the championship. I’d like another shot at it, and Chase Elliott is an extremely talented race car driver.”
Earnhardt Miller says they have yet to determine who will crew chief for the No. 5 Nationwide Series team next year as the company will search through the possible candidate, taking as much as time as needed to find the right person.
“Pairing Kevin Harvick and Dale Jr. with the best crew chief possible is extremely important to us, and we’re prepared to take as much time as needed to fill that position,” Earnhardt Miller said.