Rick Ware Racing announced on Apr. 13 that Camping World Truck Series owner-driver Jennifer Jo Cobb would compete in the Geico 500 Cup Series race at Talladega. Days later, NASCAR denied approval, forcing RWR to find another driver on short notice.
According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, there were multiple factors that played a role in the decision to deny Cobb the seat for Sunday’s race. Previous performances in Truck and Xfinity Series races were key among them. Cobb has 217 starts in the Truck Series, including nine at Talladega. Her best finish is 11th in 2018.
Pockrass noted that the decision to deny Cobb has nothing to do with a recent incident involving her and Norm Benning. The two drivers had an on-track collision that sent Cobb to the garage early and resulted in her and members of her team sitting down with NASCAR officials.
The NASCAR rulebook requires drivers to outline their racing experience
According to NBC Sports, NASCAR rules state that Cobb had to submit her previous racing experience to the NASCAR Resume Committee in order to receive approval for competition. Cobb has never taken part in a Cup race and had to submit for approval in that series.
Section 220.127.116.11.b of the Cup Rule Book also states that “Any previously approved driver who has not competed for at least one year must resubmit the Driver Information and Record application.” Pockrass noted that NASCAR approved Cobb to run at Talladega years ago, but said she had to go through the approval process once again.
A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed to Jim Utter of Motorsports.com that Cobb is only currently approved to race on superspeedways in Trucks. She previously had approval to run Xfinity Series races at superspeedways but has not done so since 2018.
Cobb has made two Xfinity Series starts at Talladega. The first was in 2011. She finished 37th out of a 43-car field after being involved in a 21-car crash. Her last Xfinity start at the superspeedway was April 2018. Cobb finished 29th out of the 40-car field.
Rick Ware Racing will have to find a new driver for Sunday
NASCAR released the entry list for Sunday’s Geico 500, confirming that 40 cars will compete at Talladega. All of these vehicles had listed drivers, with the exception of the No. 15 Chevrolet Camaro. The entry simply said “TBA.” Cobb was set to drive this vehicle during the fan-favorite event, but NASCAR’s decision removed that possibility.
“We’ve been informed by the sanctioning body that Jennifer is not approved to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series event at Talladega SuperSpeedway this coming weekend,” team owner Rick Ware said in a statement. “This is an unfortunate situation, but as a team we support NASCAR’s decision to uphold the sanctioning bodies [sic] rules and regulations.”
Multiple drivers have gotten behind the wheel for RWR during the 2021 season. Chris Windom competed in the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway but only completed 62 laps due to engine issues. James Davison also drove the No. 15 Chevrolet for six races, including the Daytona Road Course race and Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.