The Frontstretch: 5 Points to Ponder Special: Jennifer Jo Cobb & The Nationwide Race by Brody Jones -- Sunday March 20, 2011

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1: The Jennifer Jo Cobb situation

To say that Rick Russell and the 2nd Chance Motorsports operation exrienced nothing short of an all-out mutiny at Bristol Saturday is an understatement. To explain the whole messy situation, Cobb was pulled out of the car at Fontana and ten minutes before race-time for Saturday’s Scotts E-Z Seed 300, she was told she would be parking the car. This, according to Cobb, breached her contract with the team and she immediately walked away from the team. Not only did Cobb walk away, but her crew, her crew chief, and her PR representative all left the team as well. With no crew, 2nd Chance Motorsports was originally not allowed to run on the track. But after they procured the services of Chris Lawson and a crew that was basically patched together at the last moment, they parked the car after four laps.

While it’s not clear yet whether this stand will help or hurt Cobb’s career, one has to applaud the fact that she wants to race and does not want to start and park. To make a move like that took a lot of courage and it’s clear that Cobb’s principles were such that she was not going to park her car because she felt it would be a detriment to her career. Whether you agree or disagree, to stand up for your principles at the risk of jeapordizing one’s career is a gutsy decision.

2: The Domination Of Kyle Busch

Whether you love him or hate him, one cannot help but marvel at the impressive track record of Kyle Busch as of late in the Nationwide Series. It was pointed out by ESPN that at lap 265 Busch had led his 10,000th career lap and by leading 272 of the race’s 300 laps, not to mention procuring his 4th straight Bristol NASCAR victory, earning a perfect driver rating of 150.0. What Busch has achieved not just at Bristol, but in the Nationwide Series in such a short amount of time (45 victories in 206 starts), is remarkable. But on the flip-side of the coin, is there any real purpose to the smack-down that he keeps laying on the Nationwide Series regulars? It’s obvious to even the most lay observer that Busch has the best equipment in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and while some media outlets continue to gush over his career NASCAR wins and seem hell-bent on rewriting the NASCAR record book to make him sound more dominant than Richard Petty, it’s demoralizing and depressing for all these Nationwide teams to get spanked like this week-in and week-out with very drivers even having any kind of prayer of sniffing the tire tracks of Kyle Busch. Sure, he’s a dominant Nationwide Series driver, but at what cost does this come to the series?

3: The Tire Situation

On Friday, there were many problems with tires for the Nationwide and Cup teams. The tires issues were indiscriminatory in the Nationwide ranks. They plagued Elliott Sadler’s team and start-an-park teams such as Kevin Lepage and Team Rensi. In fact, the tire issue caused Lepage and his team to have to withdraw from the race. Overnight on Friday, tires with last year’s compound were shipped in to Bristol and the question was, in the minds of crews and drivers, would there be any tire issues? While flat tires were the cause of the incidents of Aric Almirola and Brad Keselowski respectively, there were no real significant issues. At least none more so than usual. One has to give the Goodyear people credit for recognizing there was a problem and (largely) averting a disaster like the Indianapolis race in 2008 when there were only 10-lap stretches of green flag racing, infuriating fans and drivers alike.

4: Scoring Issues

Around Lap 11, ESPN-viewers noticed that the leader-board that tracked their favorite drivers was not showing up on the screen. This led to well over 50 laps of mass confusion for viewers at home. There was actually a very good reason for this. NASCAR’s official scoring had malfunctioned and it didn’t come back until lap 69, leaving viewers following their favorite Nationwide drivers very confused as to where they were running. Of course, ESPN just kept following the Cup drivers up front so the viewers were not missing the action up front, but this scoring fiasco further made the Nationwide-only drivers look like the weaker sister. This is not what the series needs if it wants to gain the fans back. But given the fact that the Nationwide Series brain-trust (not to mention ESPN officials) have dropped the ball time and time again when they could have fixed things, or at least balanced things out in terms of coverage, it’s not all that surprising that ESPN and the Nationwide Series once again, had another disaster (albeit relatively minor) that they did not need.

5: This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Bristol

While watching the Nationwide race, I came to realize that the progressive banking, while creating more passing opportunities, has somewhat caused the Nationwide race at Bristol to lose its luster with the fans who come to Bristol for the sake of contact and aggressive driving. It seems like the progressive banking has almost made Bristol somewhat tame and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Granted, there was more passing at Bristol than in years past, but all the paint-trading and bumper-to-bumper action that made Bristol a must-see event appears to be a thing of ancient history and that very well may be a reason for the dip in attendance at this years Nationwide race at Bristol. Case in point, there have been, on average, four fewer cautions with the new banking than the old surface and while the fans who enjoy racing are appeased, the ones who enjoy the bumping and banging of Bristol past are left disappointed.

Contact Brody Jones

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03/20/2011 07:12 AM

Just because the scoring was down at the track was no reason for fans at home to be left in the lurch. The scoring tower at Bristol gives a continuous rundown of the running order. The guys in the booth should have ‘gone radio’ and given at least an occasional rundown of the running order which could have been gotten off the scoring tower. Instead, they played it safe and talked about the top few cars.

As far as the ‘new’ Bristol, the ‘chase’ started the demise of what used to be ‘typical’ Bristol racing, especially at the night race. Bristol had become unique, as Nacar gave up the short track action for more seats and cookie cutter tracks. With the progressive banking, Bristol now looks a lot like MIS with traffic.With the COT able to take a lot more abuse and keep running, it’s too bad that Martinsville is now the only track that harks back to the ‘old days’ of short tempers and beating and banging. It certainly is a lot more polite…but is that what fans want to see at Bristol? You can take the snobbish attitude that the racing is more pure…but that isn’t what made Bristol a must see. If it races like a cookie cutter now, why bother? You can see that anywhere these days. I gave up season tickets this year because I could barely stay awake for the last 100 laps the last time I went to the night race. While the ambiance there is still great, the racing isn’t unique anymore.

lonnie s.
03/20/2011 08:15 AM

Jennifer Corn-Cobb is a piece of trash and left her owner in a cold situation before the start of NASCAR’s favorite race. She is a loser and that’s why she will never be Danica.

Bristol stinks now and they shoulda left it alone.

03/20/2011 09:18 AM

Wow lonnie s….don’t hold back!! Please tell us how you really feel. Sounds like you may have a connection!!

03/20/2011 09:58 AM

Kyle Busch sucks! Now that we all know that we’ll go watch the cup race where we’ll watch Carl Edwards win!

Old Farmer
03/20/2011 10:42 AM

I was going to comment here, but the remarks of Lonnie and Marcus are so stupid that I refuse to enter such a discussion.

03/20/2011 11:03 AM

I am thinking Lonnie might have been shut down by Jennifer Jo-Cobb at sometime.

03/20/2011 12:49 PM

Kudos to Jennifer Jo Cobb for standing up to her owner. She was hired by the team to drive the car. She wants to race. NASCAR must do something to stop all of this start-and-park mess.

So, according to Lonnie S., she will never be Danica. In my mind, that is a good thing that she will never be the Anna Kournikova of racing, who is know more for her looks than her driving skills. I agree with others, Lonnie must have gotten shut down by her in the past!

03/20/2011 01:22 PM

Good Job Jennifer!
It took alot of guts to walk away and stand up for her princples.

Why did nascar allow a start and park car to finally START the race when it was already 150 down?

While I’m glad Kevin Lepage was not hurt, it makes my weekend when the start and parks tear up equipment and DO NOT MAKE ANY MONEY at the race track.

I like the new Bristol, it still takes talent to race side by side in such close quarters lap after lap.

Rich Norton
03/20/2011 09:07 PM

Jen, I hope many new doors open for you. It takes a very strong person to stand up to for their principles.

03/21/2011 12:53 AM

1. – I support Jennifer Jo Cobb. It takes guts to stand up and say I am here to race. Period. I applaud her crew for following her out the door.
2. I will respect Kyle’s accomplishments in Cup but NW and truck…. no. You keep playing in the minors to prove what? That you can consistently beat drivers with lesser equipment and less talent. Get serious. NASCAR encourages this scenario for manufactured racertainment. That same feeling applies to other experienced Cup drivers.
3. The tire situation is a joke. Cannot fathom why they can’t seem to get the tires right. And NASCAR and media sing Goodyear’s praises.
4. The network really takes their coverage seriously????
5. I loved the old Bristol. It was must see TV. So lukewarm on the new configuration. But I think points racing is a bigger factor in the crappy racing now.
Lukewarm really describes my whole attitude towards NASCAR now. They shoot themselves in the foot weekly and never acknowledge the need to go back and fix anything.