So I have got a big opinion on what went on just minutes prior to the Nationwide Series race at Bristol on Saturday. Jennifer Jo Cobb vacated her seat five minutes before the race citing that she was never told that owner Rick Russell planned to start and park the car after wrecking at Las Vegas.
A lot of her fans came to her defense and slammed 2nd Chance Motorsports calling the owners liars. The harassment was so bad that the race team had to shut down their Facebook page. There was also a rumor that the personal phone numbers of Russell were given away. Cobb said she didn't know who did that.
The truth is that the relationship between the two has been volatile for quite some time. After wrecking in Las Vegas, fans of 2nd Chance who did not like Cobb as the driver slammed her abilities and claimed she bought the ride. Owners of 2nd Chance stuck by their driver in FB posts, at one point even posting classless posts about the driver they believe actually caused the wreck.
After the wreck in LAs Vegas, 2nd Chance management claims they informed the Cobb they would start and park Bristol to save the equipment for California. They also claim that Crew chief Steve Kuykendall and Cobb hired a crew behind the back of ownership. Cobb claims that she was never told any of this, but she was also responsible for buying tires for the race.
The story is convoluted at this point. Rick Russell claims Cobb is in breach of contract for walking away five minutes before the race and for not supplying the engine as part of her five race deal earlier in the season as well. Cobb claims Russell never told her his plans and jeopardized her racing career with the start and park. Russell wants to sue, while Cobb just wants some car parts back that she supplied.
Personally, I think both parties are at fault. Cobb signed to drive the car. the owner makes the decision, the drivers follows them. If they don't like it, they can quit, but five minutes before a race is just ridiculous and seems premeditated. On the other hand, starting and parking is now rampant in NASCAR so the teams can finance operations from week to week.
NASCAR has breeded this start and park mentality. Some Sprint Cup teams in 2009 and 2010 made a habit out of it, while some did it only when they had to. If you go to the track without a crew, NASCAR should step up and do something about it. There are six crew members who go over the wall, plus a crew chief. Like nine players on the field in baseball, NASCAR should make those crew members a requirement.
Start and parking was a good idea to help teams in a troubled economy, but with teams folding and cars being liquidated, some teams are formed on the basis of being start and park cars. NASCAR needs to stop it before the legitimacy of the sport is jeopardized. Enough is enough. Thank God for the Wood Brothers. They know what they can afford and race accordingly. Because of that mentality, they won the Daytona 500.