By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
Jennifer Jo Cobb lost her Nationwide Series ride moments before last weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. But in the days since, she's been overwhelmed with encouragement and support and has turned something negative into something positive.
The biggest Nationwide story out of Bristol last weekend wasn't Kyle Busch's victory. It was the brouhaha between Cobb and her former car owner, Rick Russell, over Cobb's refusal to start-and-park the 2nd Chance Motorsports Ford.
Accusations flew back and forth - and continue to - but Cobb has come out smelling like a rose. For starters, Rick Ware Racing hired her to run the team's No. 41 in this Saturday's Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway."I've got a ride for California, my T-shirt sales have quadrupled this week, I've got fans who are sending in donations to make sure that I have the money to go racing with other teams, I've got people calling me to give speeches because I give speeches about perseverance and determination and reaching your goals," Cobb said. "I want to stick up for my integrity and reputation, (and) the best thing for me right now is just to focus on the business side of it."
Cobb said she is simply trying to focus on getting rides for the rest of the season, instead of trying to defend herself from Russell's various accusations.
"This is a business," Cobb said. "There's a Jen Cobb behind the scenes who sat with her mom and went and saw her dad and hung out with friends. Then there's Jennifer Jo Cobb the race car driver who is in this for business. It's Jen's dream to go race, so Jennifer Jo Cobb has to work on making that happen.
"It's silly to refer to yourself in the third person, but that's just what it boils down to."
Cobb's dream is to race full time, and she insists the best way to do that is to treat her dream professionally.
"I can't wait for all the drama to be over," Cobb said. "It's like, 'Are we trying to race or are we trying to be dramatic?' It's just ridiculous."
And while the Rick Ware Racing ride, for now, is just for the weekend, Cobb said it is "looking highly likely that I will race the rest of this season," with three teams.
"What that would do is enable me to gain experience in different cars with different teams and different crew chiefs," Cobb said. "It wouldn't put the financial burden of my racing full time on any one team. That's the scenario I'd like to work out. But day-to-day things change, and anything could pop up along the way."
She's certainly learned that this week.
What: Royal Purple 300
Where: Auto Club Speedway; Fontana, Calif.
When: Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN, 5 p.m. Eastern
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128
Track layout: 2-mile oval
Race distance: 150 laps/300 miles
Qualifying: Saturday, 1:10 p.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Kyle Busch
2010 polesitter: Joey Logano