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February 16, 2011

Jennifer Jo Cobb to unveil 'Driven 2 Honor' program at Daytona

By Tim Hipps
FMWRC Public Affairs
Jennifer Jo Cobb
NASCAR driver Jennifer Jo Cobb will unveil "Driven 2 Honor," and Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command promotion to salute women in the military this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

LOS ANGELES - Even as a race-car driver, Jennifer Jo Cobb finds it hard to fathom how fast her "Driven 2 Honor" program is coming to fruition.

Cobb teamed with the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers to create a NASCAR VIP Weekend for female troops as a salute to women in the military.

Beginning this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Cobb will play host to two female Soldiers and their guests at each of the first five events on the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series circuits, followed by stops at Phoenix, Las Vegas, Bristol and California.

FMWRC and BOSS officials are expecting candidates to be nominated from nearby installations such as Fort Stewart, Ga., Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Fort Irwin, Calif., Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Campbell, Ky., but female Soldiers worldwide are eligible. FMWRC will provide a $600 gift card for each winner and their guest to help cover travel and lodging expenses.

Family and MWR eligible patrons can visit www.mwrpromotions.com to self-nominate or nominate a female Soldier for this NASCAR VIP experience with Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing.

Winners will have access to the garage and pit road areas with Cobb's race team for practice, qualifying and on race day. Some also might be able to serve as an honorary pit-crew member. They will have photo and autograph opportunities with Cobb and other NASCAR drivers, and will even be allowed to attend the NASCAR driver's meeting with Cobb. During the races, winners will have an opportunity to sit atop the pit box with Cobb's crew chief.

"It's really a unique opportunity to be behind the scenes," Cobb said. "It's going to be so fun and special to be able to share that with women who have served our country and be able to say thank you."

"I get a lot of positive media attention for being a female in a male-dominated environment," she said. "In NASCAR, there is a lot that happens to honor men and women of the military, but I don't see many women walking around in uniform and participating, and I thought, 'You know, I get all of this attention, but imagine what these women go through ... What if I could reach out and show them a special honor to reflect some of that media attention to these women who I feel are more deserving?'"

Cobb bounced her idea around with friends and colleagues who helped her develop the "Driven 2 Honor" concept.

Knowing that launching a not-for-profit organization would be time consuming, Cobb divided her approach into three phases. First, she would honor women serving in the military by inviting them to be a part of the behind-the-scenes experience at a NASCAR race.

"The second step, my mom had encouraged me to join the military myself," Cobb said. "She wanted me to be in the Army or perhaps a Marine because my grandpa was a Marine. But I wanted to race, and I knew I couldn't do both, so I really focused on racing.

"I thought, why not encourage other young women without maybe a college education fund or a viable career path that the Army or any branch of our United States Military would be a fantastic way to go? So that, in a nutshell, is how we get the first two phases, to honor and then to hopefully inspire young girls."

The third phase, which Cobb said requires all the legal paperwork that all not-for-profits encounter, will be to raise funds to help homeless female veterans.

Cobb competed in all 25 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in 2010 and finished 17th in the final point standings, which guaranteed her a spot in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

"We are there for the truck race to win," said Cobb, who named her truck "Bruce," after her hauler driver who died from pancreatic cancer last December.

Cobb was running among the top 10 in "Bruce" at Talladega last October when it ran out of gas.

"We know that this is a truck capable of running in the top 10 and capable of possibly winning the race," she said. "So we're looking for our strongest finish ever."

Last year, Cobb was collected in a second-lap crash and knocked from the truck race at Daytona.

"I actually had the wreck cleared and I was way out in the grass by myself when somebody else tried to take that spot," she said.

Cobb has one start apiece in the ARCA, NASCAR Trucks and Nationwide Series divisions at Daytona. She hopes to start two races this weekend by making the field for the Nationwide Series' Drive4COPD 300 on Saturday at 1:15 p.m.

"Being unsponsored by a big national corporation really hurts across the board because we don't have the personnel or the technology or the latest, greatest, most expensive stuff," Cobb said. "But for this effort we've really pulled out all the stops and worked as best we can with everything that we have, and so I feel like the chances we have of being very competitive in the race are very high."

"I've never been on this track with this car before, so I can't wait to get out there for that first practice."

Both vehicles will display the Army MWR and Army BOSS logos for the first time at Daytona, said FMWRC marketing specialist Carrie Poore.

Practice for both the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series events begin Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.

Cobb still is amazed the Driven 2 Honor program came together so quickly. The thought first crossed her mind last August while sitting in a hotel room in Nashville.

"I wanted to be able to do something good with my racing career," she said. "I run my race team and sort of manage everything on my own. Just to have such wonderful people, like my colleague Jeff Sprague, and everyone from the FMWRC that has worked so very hard and the BOSS organization that helped make this happen, I think we have made an amazing record turnaround time in developing the program and pushing it to that next level.

"It's already grown so much stronger than I originally imagined. To actually have female Soldiers in our pit area with us for the weekend is really going to be a special experience."
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