Jennifer Jo Cobb not approved by NASCAR to run Talladega Cup race

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NASCAR denied approval for Jennifer Jo Cobb to drive in Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, forcing Rick Ware Racing to find another driver for the No. 15 car.

The team announced April 13 that Cobb would make her Cup debut in the No. 15 car at Talladega Superspeedway. She would have been the first female to compete in a Cup race since Danica Patrick drove in the 2018 Daytona 500.

Car owner Rick Ware issued a statement Monday: “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. This is an unfortunate situation, but as a team we support NASCAR’s decision to uphold the sanctioning (body’s) rules and regulations.”

NBC Sports has reached out to Cobb for comment.

Section of the Cup Rule Book states that drivers must outline their previous racing experience to the NASCAR Resume Committee, which will determine if the driver is approved for competition.

The rule also states: “Any previously approved driver who has not competed for at least one year must resubmit the Driver Information and Record application.”

Because Cobb had not competed in Cup, she had to submit for approval for that series.

Cobb’s limited Xfinity starts in recent years and her performance raised issues even though she has made 217 Camping World Truck Series starts, including nine starts at Talladega. Cobb’s best finish in a Truck at Talladega was 11th in 2018. She has been with underfunded teams in her career. Her incident with Norm Benning  this past weekend during the Truck race at Richmond Raceway had no bearing on this decision. 

Cobb has one top-10 finish in the Truck Series. That came in 2011. She placed sixth in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.

She has made three Xfinity starts since 2016 and none since 2018. Her last Xfinity start was April 28, 2018 at Talladega. She finished 29th in the 40-car field. Her only other Xfinity start at Talladega was in 2011. She finished 37th in the 43-car field for car owner Rick Ware. She was eliminated in a 21-car crash.

NASCAR has looked to strengthen its requirements for each series, particularly Cup in recent years.

In 2018, NASCAR permitted Tanner Berryhill to compete in the final two Cup races, including the championship race, even though he had never started a Cup race before and had last run in the Xfinity Series in 2014. Questions were raised about allowing any driver with such limited NASCAR experience in recent years to compete in a Cup race, let alone a playoff event.

Berryhill, driving for an underfunded team making its second series start, finished 31st at Phoenix after causing two caution flags, one for a spin and another for an accident. He ran to the finish the following week in the title race at Miami and placed 38th.

Earlier this season, NASCAR permitted former 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope to compete in the season-opening race even though the 62-year-old had not run in a Cup race since 2018. It marked his 428th Cup starts. He was eliminated in a crash after three laps.

COTA Truck race results: Zane Smith wins


Reigning series champion Zane Smith won Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

The victory is Smith’s second of this year.

MORE: COTA Truck race results

MORE: Truck points after COTA

Kyle Busch finished second and was followed by Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain.

The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.

Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.

Stage 1 winner: Christian Eckes

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.

Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.

Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.

Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
COTA winner Zane Smith’s truck catches fire after he did his burnout on the frontstretch. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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