First Female Driver Since Danica Patrick to Race NASCAR Cup Series, Making Debut at Talladega Superspeedway
Danica Patrick is the most successful female driver to race on the NASCAR Cup Series. She retired in 2018 after six seasons, and there hasn’t been another female driver at NASCAR’s top level since. Veteran driver Jennifer Jo Cobb, who has competed on a limited Xfinity Series schedule since 2004, will change that on April 25 at the GEICO 500 where she will make her Cup Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway.
Danica Patrick is the most successful female Cup Series driver
After Danica Patrick raced a part-time schedule in 2012, she made an impressive debut on the Cup Series in 2013 when she earned an eighth-place finish at the season-opening Daytona 500. That turned out to be her lone top-10 finish of the year. She finished 27th in the final standings.
The following year, Patrick had three top-10 finishes but still only managed to finish 28th overall. Over the next two seasons, she had the most successful years of her career, finishing 24th both times. Interestingly, she had just three top 10s combined but was more consistent throughout each season.
In 2017, Patrick earned the final top 10 of her career at Dover, where she finished 10th. She finished the season standings in 28th place. She raced in the 2018 Daytona 500 for the final race of her career and finished 35th.
Jennifer Jo Cobb has extensive NASCAR background
While Danica Patrick achieved the most success and highest profile of any female driver in NASCAR, Jennifer Jo Cobb was competing in NASCAR long before Patrick found a seat with the Cup Series.
Cobb made her Xfinity Series debut in 2004 when she raced one time at Homestead and finished 43rd. Since then, she has competed sporadically, totaling 31 races on the Xfinity Series.
She has found a steady ride with various teams on the Camping World Truck Series, where she debuted in 2008 and got a full-time seat in 2010. In her run with the trucks, Cobb has a single top-10 finish. She finished sixth at Daytona in 2010.
Jennifer Jo Cobb becomes first female Cup driver since Danica Patrick
This season, Jennifer Jo Cobb has raced five times on the Truck Series, her best finish coming at the season opener in Daytona, where she finished 18th. On Tuesday, after she had spent more than 15 years competing with NASCAR, it was announced Cobb would become the first female driver since Danica Patrick to compete on the Cup Series.
“I am grateful to have a new sponsor like Arrowhead Brass join in my excitement of having Jennifer Jo Cobb drive for RWR at Talladega Superspeedway,” team owner Rick Ware said in a statement. “Being a female in a male-dominated sport is not an easy task, especially for as long as Jennifer has been competing in NASCAR. I hope that she has a successful first NASCAR Cup Series debut and look forward to Arrowhead Brass making their NASCAR sponsorship debut at Talladega as the primary sponsor on Jennifer’s car.”
The 47-year-old Cobb was understandably excited.
“I am so thankful for this opportunity with RWR and greatly appreciate Arrowhead Brass for coming on board to help make this happen,” Cobb said in a statement. “It’s also exciting to have my longtime sponsor at Fastener Supply to extend their support as well. I have a long history with RWR and a lot of respect for this organization. This team has a lot of heart and reminds me a lot of my small team competing against such mammoth organizations.”
No one knows if this one race will lead to more opportunities for Cobb down the road. At the very least, it’s a nice reward for someone who has paid her dues for years on the lower tiers of NASCAR. She at least has a shot to compete at the highest level while etching her name in the history books in the process.