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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jennifer Jo Cobb shows commitment to racing, refuses to start and park

Jennifer Jo Cobb isn’t a big name in NASCAR yet, but after her decision to refuse to start-and-park on Saturday at Bristol, she probably has a lot of new fans.

Before I get into Cobb’s situation in-depth, let me say that while I don’t like it in principle, I’m not of the opinion that starting and parking should be banned. For many owners, it’s the only way to survive in the short term, and it would be pretty hard to enforce that kind of rule.

Having said that, what Cobb did Saturday at Bristol was pretty courageous, and a sign that she wants to race and not just sit in a car for a few laps.
Cobb says that 10 minutes prior to the start of the race, she was told by team owner Rick Russell that the team was going to start-and-park and save the car for next week at California, rather than risk wrecking it at Bristol. At that point, she refused to drive it.

"I have made a commitment to my sponsors, my fans and NASCAR that I'm not a start-and-park driver. I'm really serious about this. I have to work hard to prove to people that I'm serious about this,” Cobb said. “The conversation was never had with me until 10 minutes before the race started that I was to start and park. I had already bought & tires to run this race, so you can imagine, it was a blow both to my principles and my finances to hear this.”

She said Russell was going to force her to stop if she didn’t agree to start-and-park.

“As the owner of this team, he has the right to ask NASCAR to black flag me and said he would do so. “

Russell, of course, had a different story. He said Cobb knew the plan and her last-minute refusal to driver made the team look bad.
"Five minutes before the race, she took her crew and left. We had a crew meeting here on Friday morning and I explained to everyone what our purpose was here this weekend. In Vegas we destroyed a car through Kyle Busch's accident. We only had one car, so had to have the body completely replaced on the car except for the roof, decklid and rear bumper, so without a sponsor the total of about $16,000 about broke me to get this car together. We already had our entry in for here and California, so rather than try to roll this and lose this, we decided we'd come up here and I let everybody know we were here in a conservative mode. We would practice smart. We would qualify and we would make a few laps and then we would park the car and save it for California. She waited until five minutes until start time and told her crew chief and her other people that worked for her and they left. I'm sitting on pit road with a car without a driver and made myself look stupid, NASCAR look stupid, the whole bunch of us look stupid.''

While I can sympathize with Russell’s small-team status and the lack of cars to spare, it’s still refreshing to see Cobb step up and let her refusal to start-and-park be known. With that kind of dedication to her racing career, it would be greatto see a team committed to racing the full distance each week give her a shot to continue racing this season.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate what JJC did in refusing to S & P. It cheats the fans, yes cheats the fans. "Your ticket costs $100.00 oh and by the way, some of these drivers are going to ride around for a few laps then pull into the pits and claim the car had a problem. Yes we will pay them a portion of what you paid for your ticket. Oh you think that is like stealing from you, well I guess you could call it that"

March 21, 2011 at 6:50 AM 
Blogger Matthew said...

Add one more 'new' fan to her base... Me! Nicely written article.

March 21, 2011 at 7:16 AM 
Blogger Ultraworld said...

This could finally bring this issue out in the open. NASCAR needs to ditch start & park. Stop paying these teams & will go away.

March 21, 2011 at 11:13 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year I drove 300 miles to watch a Friday night truck race. By lap 50 @ 1/3 of the field had parked. Felt like I should have waited to drive up on Saturday morning and save one night';s expences instead...Wish more drivers had balls like her and stop this joke.

March 21, 2011 at 11:38 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Sounds like I'm not the only one supporting her ... and I just heard she got another ride for California, so that's some good news.

March 21, 2011 at 11:44 AM 

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