Jake Crum believes there is missing context when it comes to the incident at Hickory Motor Speedway concerning his wife, Annabeth Barnes-Crum, against Landon and Robert Huffman during and after a Late Model Stock feature on May 20.
A series of on-track incidents led to Barnes-Crum intentionally crashing both her car and the one driven by Huffman under caution. It began with contact between the two on the backstretch where Huffman got squeezed into the wall resulting in a bump-and-run in the next corner at which point Crum went to confront the elder Huffman on the spotter stand, leading to a physical altercation.
That resulted in both the elder Crum and Huffman pressing simple assault charges against each other, and NASCAR preventing Crum from obtaining a competition license for the remainder of the season. Since then, the charges have been mutually dropped following a series of court appearances, with Crum adamant that they should have not been filed to begin with.
Crum also wants NASCAR to lift his de facto suspension since the basis for it, in his view, is no longer valid with the charges being dropped.
“I want people to know we had our names dragged through the mud, ended up on FOX News, just to have them drop their charges,” Crum told Short Track Scene on Monday afternoon. “This stuff about a running clothesline, you can’t even do that on a three-foot wide spotter stand, all of it was self-defense.”
The younger Huffman released a YouTube video detailing his side of the incident and made the claim that his dad was ‘clotheslined’ by Crum.
Crum says he did initiate with Robert Huffman on the spotter stand but only because he was told by someone at the track aligned with their team that Landon was told by his father to wreck Barnes-Crum. His version of the story is that he only tired to talk.
“Annabeth was two-wide with the 15 car (Tyler Matthews) and there was nowhere for her to go,” Crum said. “Landon tried to pass to the outside and he’s been racing there long enough, and anyone who has raced there long enough, knows you can’t make a three-wide pass on the outside like that.
“Robert keys up and tells Landon to stuff her in the fence. It wasn’t a bump-and-run.”
Robert Huffman’s exact verbiage to his son was ‘wreck her if she squeezes you in the fence.’ That message was relayed to Crum. This is around the same time that Landon Huffman delivered a tap to Barnes-Crum in Turn 4 that shoved her up the track, where she then turned down in the efforts to hit Huffman back.
Crum was moving towards Robert at this point.
“I walked down there, hands in the air and Robert jumps around, and I say ‘I’m not coming here to fight’ but he starts swinging,” Crum said.
There’s no video evidence, at least to date, to verify exactly what happened. Most videos pick up at the tail end of the fight where Crum is being separated from Huffman by an official and spotter/racer Justin T. Carroll, Crum stomping down towards Huffman.
Crum disputes that he started the fight.
“I asked him why he told Landon to wreck her and he puts me on the ground in a headlock,” Crum said. “I laid there and said ‘Robert, stop,’ and as I was getting up, he kicked me in the balls, the chest. If you slow down the video, you can see that, and I was just protecting myself.”
As the confrontation continued, Barnes-Crum drove around the track under caution and throttled up into Turn 3 and drove directly into Huffman’s right-side door, damaging both cars in the process.
For their part, the Huffmans say their charges were dropped because they wanted to be done with the matter after securing a restraining order and protective order. Crum says he was advised to proceed with dropping his charges only because Huffman dropped his charges over not being able to prove his side of the proceedings in court.
This was the latest chapter in a simmering feud between the two teams over the past couple of seasons. Huffman had their engine torn down after the championship race last season under protest from Barnes-Crum. Earlier this season, Huffman was leading and cut a right rear and created a video that shows the Barnes-Crum team flipping him off. During a podium presentation earlier in the spring, Barnes-Crum ‘apologized’ to the fans because she said she knew they were only here for Huffman.
As for the NASCAR de facto suspension, Crum was not suspended because he did not have an active license to suspend. He was operating on a single event license, where applicable, while making a handful of Tour Type Modified starts in the SMART Modified Tour.
He says he wants to be reinstated because he has offers in both the NASCAR Weekly Series and CARS Tour to compete. CARS Tour is upholding NASCAR’s suspension as well. Crum says the suspension is no longer valid since the charges against him were dropped.
Further, he says he was unable to appeal in the first place because NASCAR provides just three days to file such a motion. Crum says he missed the deadline only because NASCAR’s technical director for regional racing Les Westerfield misspelled Annabeth’s email.
Crum says he found out about the suspension through social media and had to ask Westerfield to personally provide him the decision. He hopes to race the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway later in the month should the suspension get lifted.
Since the incident, Crum says he was effective ‘forced’ to sell the couple’s North Carolina home, citing harassment towards Barnes-Crum stemming from the incident. He says no one deserves the type of language that was directed her way. He says he doesn’t harbor any resentment towards the Huffmans but ultimately believes they were used for content to fuel Huffman’s YouTube channel.