Some drivers refuse to start and park. Jennifer Jo Cobb is one of them.
ESPN reported during its telecast of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol that Cobb stepped out of the car just before the green flag waved over the Scott’s Turf Builder 300.
“It’s Jerry McGuire in NASCAR, I tell ya,” said a frustrated Cobb just 11 laps into the race. “I was told ten minutes before the race started that I would be forced to start and park by the owner, mandating a black flag so the car could be ready for California. Then I was told that he was breaking the contract with me, and that I would not be racing at California.
“I feel like God has given me the opportunity to race in NASCAR, and I feel I owe it to the fans and sponsors, and I am not a start and park driver; I’m here to race. So I spend all weekend taking care of this man’s car. [And now he's] trying to make me start and park, and break a contract with me, and I thank God He gave me the strength to just walk away.”
Cobb’s car owner, Rick Russell, claimed he did not hear ESPN reporter Jamie Little during the race and thus did not comment on the situation. Chris Lawson got behind the wheel of Russell’s #79 car and drove it for four laps before parking it.
Cobb’s future for the remainder of the season is uncertain. She forfeited her chance at Truck Series points to run full-time for Rookie of the Year in the Nationwide Series with Russell’s team. With her contract with Russell’s team now broken, she has no ride for next week’s race at California. But it was mentioned during the race telecast that several owners may be looking to put Cobb in a ride next weekend.
Obviously, it won’t be a start and park ride.
Kudos to Cobb for standing her ground here. Nobody wants to start and park, and for an owner to come up to you just before the start of the race and tell you you’re going to start and park is just wrong. Shame on Russell, but great job by Cobb to stand her ground and walk away.
Hopefully she’ll get a nice ride from somebody in time for California.