Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Jennifer Jo Cobb

Jennifer in 2013

Jennifer is an experienced stock car racer and now, team owner, who has competed extensively in the NASCAR Truck series.

She began racing in local NASCAR-sanctioned stock car events in 1991, in her home state of Kansas. Her interest in motorsports began young; since she was eight, she wanted to be a professional racing driver. When she was 18, she started racing in the Pony Stock division at her local track. Between 1991 and 1996, she won five feature races.

For the next three seasons, she raced in the Charger Division of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series, at the Lakeside circuit in Kansas, and the I-70 track in Missouri. She picked up three more outright wins, before moving up to Late Models, and winning four more feature races in 2000 and 2001.

In 2002, she made the upward and somewhat sideways move in to ARCA stock car racing, which is separate, although similar, to the NASCAR family. After some training and some promising tests at Daytona, she took part in her first ARCA race, at the Kansas circuit. Her car was a Chevrolet, and she was 16th.

2003 was a much quieter year, with much of it given over to working as a driving instructor, which allowed Jennifer to learn other tracks. She had a go at the Kansas ARCA race again, but could not finish, despite making her way to midfield from the very back.

ARCA was a happier hunting ground in 2004. She managed three top-ten finishes, at Kansas, Nashville and Chicagoland, the best of these being a seventh at Nashville. At the end of the season, she made her debut in the NASCAR Busch Series, at Homestead-Miami, but did not finish.

Although she carried on as a performance driving instructor, the next two seasons did not feature much in the way of racing. She qualified for the Kansas Busch Series race in 2006, but was taken out by another driver. The following year, she did one ARCA race at the circuit, and was 25th, in a Chevrolet.

At about this time, Jennifer launched her own line of motorsport-themed clothing for women, Driver Boutique. Driver Boutique’s proceeds helped her to get back into big-league racing, and acted as her major sponsor.

2008 saw another debut. Jennifer took part in her first NASCAR Craftsman Truck race, finishing 33rd after a blown engine at Kansas. Later in the season, she was 27th, at Kentucky. In between, she made guest appearances in ARCA and the Nationwide Series, once driving for Derrike Cope’s team.

The next season was similar in terms of scheduling, although Jennifer did not finish either of her Craftsman Truck races, one of those being at Talladega. She did not finish the Kansas ARCA round, either.

After several years of one-off drives in the Busch Series and ARCA, she put together a deal for a large proportion of the Camping World Truck series in 2010, driving a Ford for her own team. Her best finishes were two fourteenth places, and she was 17th overall. Driving for other team owners, she made some appearances in ARCA and the Nationwide Series, scoring a 17th place in ARCA, at Daytona.

The following year, she made a double attack on the Truck and Nationwide series, with a better record in the Nationwide championship, where she was 29th, and a contender for Rookie of the Year. Her car was a Rick Ware Racing Ford. However, her best overall finish was sixth, in the first round of the Truck series, at Daytona. This was a highest-ever finish for a female driver at the time, in any major NASCAR series. Her twelve races yielded another three top-twenty finishes, near the end of the season.

In 2012, she concentrated on the Truck series again, and was 27th. Her best finish was 16th, at Kentucky. As well as this, she ran two cars for her own team in Trucks, for herself and either Jake Crum or Tim J. Bell.  

She did 16 races in 2013, in which she had a best finish of 17th, at Kansas. Unfortunately, her finishing record this year was not good, and her season was further compromised by a legal battle with former business partners and her ex-boyfriend, over team property. Her final finishing position was 25th. She was also 26th in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas, in one of her regular guest appearances in the championship.

Her schedule in 2014 was similar, with most of the year spent in Trucks. Her finishing record was much improved, and she had a best finish of thirteenth, at Kansas. This, and her two other top-twenty positions, gave her 16th in the championship. Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing remained a two-car team, with the other seats taken by Caleb Roark, Matt Tifft and Willie Allen, at different parts of the season.

Her guest appearance in the Nationwide Series, also at Kansas, yielded a 24th place. 

In 2015, she continued to race in the Camping World Truck Series, and achieved six top-twenty finishes. The best of these was an 18th place, in her first race of the season, at Daytona. She was 17th in the championship. This was despite being put on probation for protesting after a crash at Dover.

She equalled her 2015 highest finish in the 2016 Truck championship with a seventeenth at Michigan. Overall, her season had more disruption than previously, with more DNFs and a few non-starts. She was 30th in the championship. In October, she made a guest appearance in the NASCAR Xfinity series at Kansas, in a Rick Ware Chevrolet Camaro. She was 29th overall.

She had rather a forgettable season in Trucks in 2017. She only finished seven out of her eighteen races, due to a variety of mechanical and technical problems. Her best finishes were two eighteenth places, at Pocono and Las Vegas. 

Jennifer uses her media profile to support a number of good causes, including her own organisation, Driven2Honor. This charity champions American servicewomen.

(Image from http://americancarsamericangirls.com)

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