After a four-week break, the Craftsman Truck Series returns to the track at Kansas Speedway. Along with the seasoned veterans and rookie of the year contenders, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Michelle Theriault will make their Craftsman Truck Series debuts. Driving for Derrike Cope’s newly founded team, Theriault will pilot the No. 73 Derrike Cope Inc./RMR Dodge Ram, and Cobb will be behind the wheel of the No. 74 Providence Medical Center Dodge Ram.
“I couldn’t be more excited. I love racing at Kansas Speedway and am looking forward to climbing behind the wheel in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and kicking off Derrike’s new race team,” said Cobb. “I remember when Kansas Speedway was merely the dream of a few, and now look at the magnitude of the support from the community and the corporations both here in Kansas City and nationally.”
Cobb got her start racing in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series at Lakeside Speedway and I-70 Speedway and finished in the top 10 each season she ran full-time. In 2002, Jennifer made her ARCA Re/Max Series debut at Kansas Speedway, a race where she finished 16th. She scored a ninth-place finish two years later. Cobb has also raced in in the Nationwide Series twice, but each outing ended in a crash.
When she isn’t racing, the 34-year-old has plenty to keep her busy. She is a public speaker and currently has an Associate’s Degree in pre-journalism. Cobb is also striving to earn her broadcasting degree, and on weekends she works at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
In 2006, Cobb launched a clothing line tailored to female race fans called “Driver Boutique.” She plans to use the profits to fund her own efforts in racing and to help others striving for a career in racing who face funding issues.
Cobb has hopes of running full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and eventually in the Sprint Cup Series. Starting out in the Craftsman Truck Series is key. Though her days working at the Richard Petty Driving Experience have allowed her to gain crucial experience on tracks the NASCAR circuit visits, nothing beats race experience.
Theriault got her start in racing at a young age. Theriault spent seven years racing quarter midgets, scoring 200 wins in 13 different states. The 22-year-old became the first female to win a legends car championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In March of 2007, Theriault made her ARCA Re/Max debut in style when she qualified in the top 10 in Lakeland, Fla. She made six starts and scored a career-best finish of 11th at Toledo Speedway in Ohio. Theriault continues to dream of becoming a NASCAR champion and considers herself a racer rather than a woman when she’s on the track.
“My theory is,” said Theriault, “when the helmet goes on, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or a girl, 13 years old or 30. I’m a racecar driver and that’s it.”
Team owner Cope plans to run at least a few more races this season including Charlotte, Dover and Mansfield.
“I plan on taking the trucks to Charlotte, Mansfield, and Dover after [Kansas]. The twins [nieces Amber and Angela Cope] are approved to drive at Mansfield so that is the plan right now,” Cope said. “I will drive one of the trucks at Charlotte and Dover and we will make a decision on the other driver in the weeks to come. The seat can be rented by some other drivers that can bring some sponsorship. We will be doing some testing with my nieces in the next few weeks as well prior to the Mansfield Truck races.”
It’s never easy for a new team to make it in NASCAR. Cope is headed in the right direction by picking a couple of drivers with strong backgrounds in racing. Look for Cobb and Theriault to run competitively in the top 15 most of the day, provided they can stay out of trouble on the track. Check out Cobb, Theriault and all of the Craftsman Truck Series drivers Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. on SPEED.
Did You Know?
- Kansas Speedway has produced three first time winners? Most recently, Erik Darnell scored his first career win in this race last season.
- Only five active drivers have raced in all Craftsman Truck Series races at Kansas Speedway? Terry Cook, Matt Crafton, Rick Crawford, Ted Musgrave and Dennis Setzer each have seven starts at the 1.5-mile track; Cook is the only one that has visited victory lane.
- None of this year’s rookie class has run a Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway? Justin Marks, Phillip McGilton and Marc Mitchell each have some ARCA Re/Max experience at the track.
- Hendrick Motorsports driver Landon Cassill will run the No. 46 Chevrolet for Morgan-Dollar Motorsports this weekend at Kansas Speedway?
- Mitchell returns to the No. 15 after giving the seat up to Denny Hamlin a few weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway? This will be Mitchell’s first race in the No. 15 since the team made the switch from Chevy to Toyota.
- Jamie Little, pit reporter for ESPN, beat Mike Skinner by 0.324 seconds to win the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race last Saturday? Little plans to give the $5,000 from Toyota to UCI Reeve/Irvine Center in California for spinal cord injury research.
Around the Series
Chrissy Wallace Full-Time in ’09
Wallace has signed a contract with Germain Racing to race full-time in the Craftsman Truck Series. The 19-year-old plans to run for Rookie of the Year in 2009 if the team can secure full sponsorship. She currently plans to run six more races this season, including Milwaukee, Kentucky, Nashville, Gateway, Atlanta and Homestead-Miami.
Germain Racing General Manager Mike Hillman Sr. said “We are looking at building some ARCA Re/Max Series races into that schedule, if funding becomes available. We’re very excited about working with Chrissy and I think we’re all looking forward to Milwaukee.”
“I’m extremely excited,” Wallace said. “This is a big deal for us. When I saw my name on that contract, I almost couldn’t believe it. But I’m thrilled about this opportunity.”
Busch Out, Sieg In
Kyle Busch will finally give up the Craftsman Truck Series points lead this weekend at Kansas Speedway. The driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Toyota Tundra will step down, allowing Shane Sieg a chance behind the wheel. Sieg drove in three races for Billy Ballew Motorsports in 2007 and has run two races in the No. 07 this season.