Jennifer Jo Cobb accused of larceny
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The owner of 2nd Chance Motorsports has filed a police report alleging larceny charges against Jennifer Jo Cobb, the driver who walked away from his Nationwide Series car five minutes before the start of Saturday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway over a start-and-park issue.
Rick Russell alleged that Cobb and crew chief Steve Kuykendall stole $16,000 worth of race car parts from his Mooresville, N.C. facility. Russell said police found about half of the missing parts on Sunday in a storage bin used by Cobb not far from the shop.
"Both her and her crew chief said they didn't know how it got there," Russell said. "I'm in the race parts-selling business. There were containers of parts that came right off the shelves with the prices still marked on them."
Cobb said the storage units belonged to Russell and that he agreed to let her and Kuykendall move some of the parts there while their partnership existed to clear space in the shop.
She said there was no attempt to steal anything and that she told Russell on Sunday to take all the parts that were his.
"I'm not sure how you steal something from someone when you move it from their property A to their property B," Cobb said. "It's just him trying to stir up more trouble. I'm not concerned. He's just trying to rattle us.
"Picture a divorce. You move out of house and accidentally take the ex-wife's favorite hair brush you both use. That's what this is like."
Sgt. S.D. Elliott of the Mooresville police department told ESPN.com on Thursday that Russell accused both Cobb and Kuykendall. Elliott said he has talked to all parties in the case, no charges have been filed and no arrests have been made.
Elliott said the matter remains under investigation and that nothing will be done until all parties return to North Carolina after Saturday's Nationwide race in California.
Russell had said arrests would be made. But Cobb said neither she nor Kuykendall have been served a warrant and she doesn't expect one.
"His name is on the storage unit," Cobb said. "How can he accuse us of stealing something when it was just transferred from their shop to their storage unit? It was just a matter of freeing up space."
Russell said he also has turned all the necessary information over to his attorney to sue Cobb for breach of contract. Cobb said she doesn't plan any legal action against Russell, but said Russell still has several items that she owns in his possession, including the car seat.
"I have receipts and some things have serial numbers, like my seat," she said. "There's several items they wouldn't be able to race without this weekend."
Cobb signed with 2nd Chance Motorsports to drive the first five Nationwide races. She walked away from the car at Bristol in protest of having to start and park.
Cobb said there was no mention of parking before then, and that when she informed Russell of plans to drive the entire race he threatened to have NASCAR black flag her.
Russell said it was clear after Cobb crashed at Las Vegas that he would park early at Bristol to preserve the car for California, noting he didn't hire a pit crew or buy tires to run the entire race. He said Cobb and her crew chief purchased tires and hired a pit crew.
Russell added that Cobb already had breached her contract because she didn't provide the engines for Las Vegas and Bristol as the contract states. Cobb insisted she lived up to the contract, noting a second party provided $15,000 toward a $30,000 engine she used at Vegas.
Russell said Cobb knew well before the race she was going to have to park and that the move in front of a national television audience on ESPN was premeditated.
"It was going to be done after California if she didn't make restitution for repairs on the car and the rental of motors," Russell said of the partnership. "I was giving her until the end of the race at Bristol to give me the money. She didn't have any money.
"They [Cobb, Kuykendall and pit crew] stood on pit road watching their watches until five minutes before the start time and left."
Cobb said in Friday's team meeting the discussion of driving conservatively to protect the car was the only thing that came up.
"We were in it for the entire race," she said. "The word start and park or X-amount of laps was never said."
Cobb will drive this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in California for Rick Ware Racing, which signed her on Sunday to a one-race deal. Tim Andrews will drive for Russell.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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