Stolen team trailer leads to Truck Series feud
Jennifer Jo Cobb looks out of the garage area before practice for the NASCAR Truck series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Thursday, May 16, 2013. After having her trailer stolen, truck racer Jennifer Jo Cobb is hoping to find replacement equipment in time to race this weekend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Mike Harmon stands by his truck before practice for the NASCAR Truck series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Thursday, May 16, 2013. Harmon has denied any involvement in the theft of a transporter from fellow driver Jennifer Jo Cobbs race team. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Jennifer Jo Cobb talks to crew members before practice for the NASCAR Truck series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Thursday, May 16, 2013. After having her trailer stolen, truck racer Jennifer Jo Cobb is hoping to find replacement equipment in time to race this weekend. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
CONCORD, N.C. – A missing trailer has sparked a feud in NASCAR’s Truck Series.
Jennifer Jo Cobb said she feels “in danger” of racing tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway against another NASCAR driver who was arrested for allegedly stealing her team trailer last weekend. Cobb said the trailer and its contents, valued at $279,000, were taken from her shop Saturday.
Fellow NASCAR driver Mike Harmon said he turned himself in to the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of felony larceny and breaking and entering. He posted $10,000 bond. Harmon has maintained his innocence, claiming he was at a race in Darlington, S.C., when the trailer was taken.
The 55-year-old Harmon is scheduled to appear in North Carolina Superior Court this morning in Rowan County. He plans to race tonight, which doesn’t sit well with Cobb.
“I absolutely feel in danger,” Cobb said yesterday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Some of the things he’s been saying to the media. I heard there was a quote about going for the jugular. What does that mean? And somebody who is looking at a felony theft, what means would they go through?”
The police have not found the trailer and Cobb is using a borrowed one this week.
At the crux of the matter is an ongoing dispute between Cobb and her former business partner at JJC Racing, David Novak, over rightful ownership of the trailer and other racing equipment. They parted ways last December and remain in litigation.
In February, Novak made news when he had a team van confiscated from Cobb in Daytona Beach, Fla., while she was making a public appearance with her race team, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. According the report, Novak claimed he was the rightful owner to the van and supplied the police with documents showing he had made payments and held the insurance on the van.
Novak, who lives in Chicago, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Harmon said he is in the middle of the quarrel because he helped set up the joint venture between Cobb and Novak in 2010. Harmon said he helped Novak retrieve the trailer from Cobb last December and it was taken to a site in Denver, N.C.
In January, Cobb said she took the trailer back and brought it to her shop because she was the rightful owner. She’s been using it ever since.
“He took my hauler in December and I went and got it back,” Cobb said.
Harmon remains upset over being targeted for larceny, saying it has tarnished his reputation.
“I don’t know where the hauler is, and I don’t want to know,” Harmon said. “I just want to do my racing deal and let them fight it out court. They was in the relationship, this is their fight.”
Harmon also called Cobb “pure evil. Evil. She doesn’t care about anybody but Jennifer.” Harmon vowed to restore his name, saying he plans to “go for the jugular” when it comes to pursuing his legal options down the road.
The strong talk left Cobb, who is 27th in the Truck Series standings, worried that Harmon might seek revenge on the track when the green flag drops tonight.
“In terms of his anger, yes, I’m intimidated,” Cobb said. “I’m a little bit fearful.”
Cobb said she never accused Harmon of stealing the trailer and that the issue is a police matter.
“I’m not in a legal battle with Mike Harmon,” Cobb said. “I’m in a legal battle with a man named David Novak. Mike and I don’t have problems in court.”
Harmon said he hadn’t spoken to NASCAR about the charges, but said he’s concerned they may not allow him to race this weekend at Charlotte. He did participate in practice yesterday.
“I’m worried to death about it,” Harmon said. “I got my fingers crossed they’ll give me a chance to clear my name.”
Neither driver has had much success on the track.
Cobb has one top-10 finish in 85 combined starts in the Nationwide and Truck Series. That came in the 2011 season-opening Truck Series race at Daytona, where she finished sixth. Cobb has led only one lap in her career and her best finish in the points was a 17th in 2010, the only year she ran a full Truck Series schedule.
Cobb ran 12 Truck races last year and made two Nationwide starts. She’s run all four Truck races this year, but failed to finish the first two.
Harmon, a journeyman in the Nationwide and Truck Series, has never notched a top 10 finish and is probably best known for a horrific crash during practice at Bristol in 2002. His car was demolished when it hit Bristol’s crossover gate in the fencing, and the gate swung open on impact. Harmon’s car was nearly split in half, and as he sat in the wreckage on the track, Johnny Sauter hit the car.