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NASCAR'S Mike Harmon is charged with car, truck thefts

Observer Staff Reports
Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013

A Hickory man is free on bond Tuesday after turning himself in on charges connected to the alleged theft of race cars and race trucks from a NASCAR team, according to Rowan County authorities.

The sheriff’s office says Joseph Michael Harmon, 59, with listed addresses in Hickory and Mooresville, surrendered to Cleveland County authorities. He was wanted in Rowan County on charges of breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering.

Harmon was released on $10,000 bond, authorities say. Warrants for the same charges have been taken out against David Novak of Tinley Park, Ill.

The warrants result from a search conducted May 28 by authorities at a race shop in Mooresville and a garage in Sherrills Ford.

Authorities say the race vehicles and other items were taken by a garage operated by JJCR Inc., which operates a vehicle in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

According to several reports, Novak is a former business partner of Jennifer Jo Cobb, owner of JJCR Inc.

Harmon and Sheila Rae Rice, 38, of Hickory, were arrested in mid-May on charges of larceny, breaking and entering a motor vehicle and obstructing justice. At the time, JJCR reported a race car hauler worth $279,000 had been taken.

Sheriff’s Det. C.C. Dangerfield wrote in the arrest warrant that an employee of the race team, Steven Kuykendall, said his team has been involved in disputes with Novak.

Dangerfield also said he interviewed Harmon, a NASCAR driver himself, and that Harmon agreed to return the race hauler to the team on May 14. The hauler was not returned, however, and arrest warrants were taken out, the sheriff’s office says.

Then on May 28, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, along with Mooresville police and the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, searched the facilities in Mooresville and Sherrills Ford.

Deputies said their seized two race cars and a race truck from Harmon’s shop on Loma Hill Court in Mooresville, then took four race trucks from a garage on Mount Pleasant Road in Sherrills Ford. Total value of the property was $125,000, according to the arrest warrants.