For Saturday’s Nationwide race, Jennifer Jo Cobb was introduced as the driver of the No. 79 car at Bristol, but never took the green flag. Her career, for the moment remains parked … which is just what she was asked to do before the race.
That’s right; on a Saturday in Bristol where Kyle Busch produced a yawner, it was the drama surrounding a car whose owner wanted to pull in the garage hours early that stole the show. Cobb’s decision, after qualifying the 2nd Chance Motorsports machine to step out and step away from her full-time ride reverberated around the Nationwide Series garage. What transpired between driver and owner Rick Russell? Jo Cobb gave Frontstretch her side of the story.
“I was told that I was not racing in California and that another driver would be in the car. Then he told me I had to start and park Bristol. He told me 10 minutes before and that he was going to have me black-flagged after one lap,” said Cobb of her decision not to compete. She also asserted there was a contract in place to drive the No. 79 car at Fontana, but that was broken, as Russell told her that another driver would be taking the reins.
Cobb stated that she refused to start-and-park the car; after doing so, her crew hid the tires that she had purchased for the race to save a little cash. Frontstretch.com was unable to speak with Russell, but his quotes in response, on the record can be seen “here”:http://hamptonroads.com/2011/03/driver-refuses-start-nationwide-race-after-she-says-owner-ordered-her-start-and-park in an article by the Hampton Road’s Dustin Long.
That left the 2nd Chance team without a driver, a role they could not fill at the drop of the green flag. Over 100 laps later, the No. 79 car turned a few circuits with Chris Lawson in the cockpit before following the plan – parking early, this time for good. The ride was initially offered to Charles Lewandoski, a part-time competitor in both Nationwide and Trucks; however, he was unable to retrieve safety equipment in time to make a serious bid for the seat.
Cobb’s future plan now is to return behind the wheel of her self-owned car, which will run the No. 13. The car is the same one Cobb ran as the No. 27 at Daytona last July before an early race wreck; fully repaired, it will be ready for its first race at Texas in mid-April. For now, Cobb is searching for an opportunity to race at Fontana next weekend.