Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jen Cobb Stands Up and Moves On: California Bound

Credit: Debbie Ross
There wasn’t any shortage of opinions this weekend at the Nationwide Series’ Easy Seed 200 at Bristol on Saturday when the registered driver of the #79 2nd Chance Motorsports Ford Mustang, Jennifer Jo Cobb, refused to follow the orders of her car owner, Rick Russell. The drama continued to unfold right before our eyes and within minutes the stories hit the airwaves, each a bit different than the next.

Jennifer Jo Cobb and her crew made the difficult decision to walk away from her car just minutes before the beginning of Saturday's running of the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. In her own words, Jennifer stated the following in regard to her decision: “... I have a commitment to my sponsors, my fans, NASCAR that I won't start and park. I'm very serious about my career and my performance, and I've worked hard to prove it to everyone.”

For the next several hours we were all witness to a "she said, he said" drama that unfolded and would only continue to confuse us even more. The one thing that wasn’t ever in question though were Jennifer’s fans and friends. Her Facebook page alone was filled with comments of pride and love for this driver who had just stood up for what she believed in. Without any question whatsoever, her fans continue to come to her defense, letting it be known in a big way that they support her for standing by her principles.

Besides her fans, Jen was being commended for her actions by other drivers. This includes Brad Keselowski, the 2010 Nationwide Series champion, who tweeted: “Kudos to Jennifer Jo Cobb for refusing to start and park” and also tweeted, “Wow Getting a lot of replies on Jennifer Jo comments. I just really respect her for making the tough choice (but the right one) #beenthere.”

Jennifer was contacted by and signed a contract with Rick Ware Racing within hours. Jen will pilot the #41 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing in the Nationwide Series this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Up until Saturday at Bristol, Cobb was under contract with 2nd Chance Motorsports to driver their #79 in California, but with the events that transpired, Cobb found herself without a ride. Fontana would have been the final race she was to run for 2nd Chance to complete her five-race contract.

Catchfence learned about a possible contract with another team Sunday night and shared this comment from Jennifer:

“Rick Ware Racing came to the rescue and is really softening the blow,” said Cobb, who started off her 2011 NASCAR season with an impressive sixth place run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. “Yes, they start and park some cars, but it is for the sake of having competitive cars. They are here to race and they are giving me the opportunity to do that and I am extremely grateful!”

It was Cobb’s original hope to finish well enough in California’s Royal Purple 300 to secure more time behind the wheel of the #79 car or possibly another. This was what had led Cobb, who is a 2011 Rookie of the Year Contender, to collect points in the Nationwide Series instead of the Camping World Truck Series.

Although the contract with Ware is only for one race, comments have been made that lead us to believe a longer relationship could come from this, providing Jen with the opportunity to continue to chase her dream as well as the 2011 Rookie of the Year Award.

Jennifer Jo Cobb in the #79 for 2nd Chance Motorsports
earlier this season. (Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs)
With all of the controversy surrounding Saturday’s "he said, she said" event, Cobb has been making the rounds on TV shows such as SPEED’s "Wind Tunnel with Dave DeSpain" on Sunday evening and "NASCAR Race Hub" on SPEED TV Monday night, not to mention the countless Internet radio shows and interviews sharing her side of the story. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook became the sounding board for all who believe in Jen and her dream. It wasn’t just her fans and supporters who backed her decision. It was a large percentage of the NASCAR community that were praising her actions.

During her appearance on Race Hub on Monday night here, Jennifer stated, " I'm not trying to say anything bad about Mr. Russell. Career-wise we were married and now we're getting divorced. We need to take our stuff and walk away. Focus on racing ..."

Below is Rick Russell’s response to what had occurred the morning prior to the green flag:

“Five minutes before the race, she took her crew and left. We had a crew meeting here on Friday morning and I explained to everyone what our purpose was here this weekend. In Vegas we destroyed a car through Kyle Busch’s accident. We only had one car, so we had to have the body completely replaced on the car except for the roof, deck lid and rear bumper, so without a sponsor the total of about $16,000 about broke me to get this car together,” Russell said. “We already had our entry in for here and California, so rather than try to roll this and lose this, we decided we’d come up here and I let everybody know we were here in a conservative mode. We would practice smart. We would qualify and we would make a few laps, and then we would park the car and save it for California.”

Saturday’s race has left her somewhat short of cash. Having purchased tires for the race, and then having Russell withhold her seat, Jennifer has set up a way for her supporters and fans to help. Just visit her Facebook page for information on the verified PayPal account, which is: jjcgoesfacing@aol.com.

This morning there was an additional account of the event on Facebook by fan Keith Fosberg. This is to be taken as it is presented. It's ‘HIS’ recollection of how things built up from Friday, to finally come to a head on Saturday.


Keith Fosberg stated the following:

“I am relaying the following as best as memory serves. Any mistakes are non-intentional. I'm not an insider and I know that all arguments have 3 (or more) sides -- my side, your side and the objective facts. I did get to see some things that... make me believe that the "She Said" is closer to objective fact than the "He said" in this dust up.


Friday evening we all went down to Beaver Creek Campground to see Jen. We milled around, talked to the campground folks and Jen's friend while we waited.


We got some pictures (mostly with my granddaughter and Jen) that I will post in a bit and got to talk to Jen. She was a little disappointed that she was going to have to be conservative in the race but was otherwise the ball of energy we are all used to.


When Rick got there a few of us chatted about all things racing with him. He mentioned that the qualifying would be a little easier since the #24 packed it into the wall in practice (I saw that, looked painful from where we sat!) and stated that they were in "conservation mode" for the Bristol race because hanging the new body had really tapped him out. I mentioned that the team should still be able to gain some spots because of the start and park crowd and due to attrition during the race by those not being conservative. He said (hope I have the quote exactly right) "About 10 cars will park right away." I said, "That's great, that's 10 spots right off the bat!" I certainly took that to mean that he wanted Jen to ride around under the radar since he didn't correct my obvious assumption that he didn't intend his team to be one of the parkers. We also talked about the cup drivers and he mentioned that he wished they were out of the money too, not just the points.


We were at the camp ground for a long time, maybe as much as an hour. Rick never made any attempt to talk to Jen that I saw and didn't make any noise when the talk went around that a last second donation (intended for a night out for the crew, I believe) was going to be used to get another set of tires.


If Rick had already decided to park the car he sure didn't make much effort to communicate that choice to anyone. It's probably best that I don't speculate on his un-communicated intentions or motivations but I can report, objectively, that if there was a lack of communication he didn't do much to alleviate it.

Jennifer is currently in communication with other teams with the hopes of securing a seat in Nationwide. We will follow her throughout the season and keep our readers up to date.

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