Saturday, August 21, 2021

TRUCKS: Jennifer Jo Cobb loses power before the track does at Gateway

PHOTO: @RealJaredHaas

Jennifer Jo Cobb picked up the 9th last-place finish of her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s Toyota 200 Presented by CK Power at the World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway when her #10 Fastener Supply Company Ford lost the engine after 28 of 163 laps.

The finish, which came in Cobb’s 225th series start, was her first of the season and first since September 10, 2020 at Richmond, 23 races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 21st for the #10, the 112th for Ford, and the 135th from engine trouble. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 130th for the #10, the 978th for Ford, and the 1,106th from an engine.

The finish also continues a streak of 16 different last-place finishers in as many races this season. She also jumps to the lead in the 2021 LASTCAR Truck Series Championship. Tied with Norm Benning on Bottom Fives and Bottom Tens, she leads by a single Bottom Fifteen, 11-10.

Now in her 14th season in Truck Series competition, the veteran owner-driver is looking to improve her team’s performance. Coming into Gateway, she’d ended a streak of five consecutive DNFs, a DNQ at COTA, and a withdrawal at Nashville to finish under power at Texas, Pocono, Knoxville, and Watkins Glen. 

Although she’s run Chevrolets for her most recent seasons, Cobb has since acquired an old Ford from ThorSport Racing, and is now campaigning it in the series. The Ford made its 2021 debut at her home track in Kansas, marking the first time she’d raced a Ford since 2013. She finished 37th with it that day, then ran 31st at Texas and Pocono before a 36th in Watkins Glen. At Gateway, the black nose of the Ford added a new accent to her traditionally white paint scheme, which would roll off in the 35th spot.

Which nose a team ran ended up a story in the garage area at Gateway, specifically involving fellow owner-driver Norm Benning. Benning unloaded his #6 MDS A Sign Co. Chevrolet in the garage area, only to be told by NASCAR officials that the 2018 nose on his Chevrolet was illegal to run. According to NASCAR, as of June 30 of this year the 2018 nose could only be run on dirt tracks and road courses, not paved ovals like Gateway. A statement from Norm Benning Racing was that NASCAR told Benning one of his three trucks was made illegal by the rule, but indicated it was not the truck he’d brought to Gateway. With no on-staff fabricator on the NBR team and all his fabrication work done in Charlotte, the #6 team had no choice but to withdraw.

Benning’s was already one of two withdrawals late in the week, joined by Spencer Davis and his family’s #11 Inox Supreme Lubricants Toyota. This further frustrated two other teams who had originally been entered in what, until mid-week, had been a 42-truck entry list for 40 starting spots. Davis’ withdrawal would have put Clay Greenfield into his first race of 2021 in the #68 Rackley Roofing Toyota while Benning’s would put in On Point Motorsports’ second entry, to be driven by Chris Hacker. While Hacker was able to find another ride in Josh Reaume’s #34, Greenfield was left on the outside looking in, unable to make the show on Owner Points due to the lack of practice or qualifying. With that, there were only 38 starters out of a possible 40.

Rolling off last on the grid Friday night was Dawson Cram, who late in the week welcomed sponsorship from KSDT onto his patriotic-painted #41 Chevrolet. But as the field rolled off the grid, Cobb had already fallen to the rear, and would incur an unapproved adjustment penalty prior to the start of the race. When the race did start, Cobb was on pit road with her truck’s hood up, and she immediately assumed the 38th spot. The crew then pushed her #10 behind the wall, and finally rolled down pit road on Lap 4. The next time by, she completed her first lap, and was shown three laps down to the leaders.

The aforementioned Chris Hacker was next to enter he last-place battel on Lap 15, when his #34 ARS Construction Toyota was pushed behind the wall for a hole in the oil line that caused the truck to smoke. Cobb dropped Hacker to last on Lap 18, then nearly tangled with Kris Wright’s #02 Wright Chevy Chevrolet in Turn 1. By Lap 27, Cobb was six laps ahead of Hacker in 39th, and Hacker was joined by Watkins Glen last-place finisher Chandler Smith, who that time by went to the garage with a hub failure on his #18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota.

Cobb restarted with the field on Lap 30, but after slowing down the backstretch returned to pit road on Lap 32. Hacker returned to the track on Lap 34, showing 21 laps down, and the still-rolling Cobb dropped Smith to 37th on Lap 41. Hacker then dropped Smith to last on Lap 48, and Cobb was back on pit road when Stage 1 ended on Lap 56. On Lap 62, Smith had just re-fired the engine and rejoined the race 36 laps down when a power outage stopped scoring and forced a nearly one-hour red flag. It wasn’t until after scoring resumed that the caution laps before the red flag were counted, dropping Cobb to last place, two laps back of Smith on Lap 65. The race ultimately restarted and was run to completion, but Cobb was the only driver to not rejoin the event. Chris Hacker climbed to finish 27th, one spot ahead of Chandler Smith.

Jordan Anderson, racing in the hometown of sponsor Bommarito Automotive Group, had engine issues as early as Lap 2 and spent several laps behind the wall in his #3 Chevrolet. He ultimately dropped out after completing 68, leaving him 37th. Danny Bohn went to the garage at least twice in On Point’s #30 North American Motor Car Toyota before calling it a night. Zane Smith led 19 laps – one of the race’s only three leaders – but the rear gear failed past the halfway point, leaving him 35th. Rounding out the group was Jake Griffin, whose #45 Great Escapes RV Center Chevrolet crossed another truck’s nose in the chain-reaction caused by John Hunter Nemechek’s sudden loss of power entering Turn 1.

In this opening round of the Playoffs, Carson Hocevar served notice by finishing a hard-fought 8th despite right-front damage suffered in one of the night’s pileups. Jack Wood, the last-place finisher at Pocono, earned a career-best 10th-place finish in his #24 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet – his first top-ten finish in seven career Truck starts. Tyler Hill’s 11th-place finish in the #56 Hair Club Chevrolet tied his own career-best for a third-straight year, following Kentucky in 2019 and Texas in 2020. And making only his second series start, Taylor Gray finished 12th in his #17 Ford for David Gilliland Racing, and was about to follow brother Tanner Gray into the Top 10 before Tanner was involved in a late-race crash, leaving him 19th.

*This marked Cobb’s second last-place finish in a Truck Series race at Gateway. The other occurred on June 17, 2017, when her $10 ASAP Appliance Service / Chevrolet had suspension issues that prevented her from completing a lap.
*With the finish, Cobb moves into a tie with Joe Nemechek and Chris Lafferty for the fifth-most last-place finishes in Truck Series history.

38) #10-Jennifer Jo Cobb / 28 laps / engine
37) #3-Jordan Anderson / 68 laps / engine
36) #30-Danny Bohn / 94 laps / engine
35) #21-Zane Smith / 99 laps / rear gear / led 19 laps
34) #45-Jake Griffin / 112 laps / crash

1st) Niece Motorsports (5)
2nd) GMS Racing, Rackley-W.A.R. (2)
3rd) CMI Motorsports, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, Roper Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (13)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (2)


1 comment:

MarshallDog said...

Stupid metric qualifying. I know NASCAR wants to cut down on time at the track, but I'd rather they make the races slightly shorter so they can fit in qualifying than just somewhat arbitrarily tell teams they can't come. Somehow all the local tracks around me manage to get in the weekly and regional series including practice, heat races, consolation races, and the features without resorting to metric qualifying.