CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The need for JTG Daugherty Racing to expand its NASCAR Cup Series program to two teams came from having too much of a good thing.
“In general, we had too many sponsors,” A.J. Allmendinger said last week at the NASCAR Media Tour.
Allmendinger has driven for JTG Daugherty since 2013 and his No. 47 Chevrolet has been easily recognizable with the many company logos covering its red, white and blue surface. That will change this season as Kroger becomes the lone primary sponsor for Allmendinger.
“It was the right time to go to a second car,” Allmendinger said. “It shows the effort they put into their race team. There aren’t a lot of teams out there saying they have to expand because there are too many sponsors in the organization.”
The decision to expand came late last year as Allmendinger wrapped up a season where he finished 19th in the standings.
“It was a late start, for sure,” Allmendinger said. “Just the transformation I’ve seen from late November to now in the shop and all the growth … we’ve added over 30 people.”
Those added employees will help field the No. 37 car driven by Chris Buescher.
Buescher, who is still under contract with Roush Fenway Racing, enters his second full Cup Series season. The 2015 Xfinity Series champion spent 2016 on loan to Front Row Motorsports. While there, Buescher won his first Cup race, the fog-shortened race at Pocono Raceway.
Buescher will be the first teammate Allmendinger has had since 2012 when he drove the No. 22 for Team Penske. How has the 35-year-old driver from California grown in a way that will benefit his relationship with Buescher?
“If you ask my team owner (Tad Geschickter), I haven’t matured yet,” Allmendinger joked. “Obviously with the talent (Buescher) has, winning the Xfinity Championship and getting his first career win last year, there’s a lot I can learn from him.”
While Allmendinger praised the benefits provided by the technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, he said nothing beats having a second driver in your team’s stable.
“When you have a second car inside your organization that is running the exact same stuff, I can bounce ideas off Chris and vice versa,” Allmendinger said. “It will make us better in the long run.”
Buescher, a native of Prosper, Texas, said he knew Allmendinger “a little bit more” than the other drivers in the Cup Series.
“There are a lot of good things that I think are going to work to help us work together,” Buescher said. “For our team going from one team to two, I think it’s going to be beneficial. The alliance with RCR is already like having a bunch of teammates. It’s just a little bit different when it’s all under the same roof 24-7 and everything is openly talked about all the time.”
Buescher enters the season after making the playoffs in his rookie season. His new team is still getting its operation into place and is doing so with some familiar faces to Buescher.
“The people we have hired on at JTG we are just going over the basics of getting seats mounted, everything set inside the car to where we’re comfortable and are able to go to the racetrack as safe as possible,” he said. “A handful of them I know from Roush and a lot of new guys coming over from other race teams that I’m just getting to know.”
The team’s new dynamic will get its first test in the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.