Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder Special: Jennifer Jo Cobb & the Bristol Nationwide Race

1: The Jennifer Jo Cobb situation

To say that Rick Russell and the 2nd Chance Motorsports operation experienced nothing short of an all-out mutiny at Bristol Saturday (March 19) is an understatement. To explain the whole messy situation, Cobb was pulled out of the car at Fontana and 10 minutes before race time for Saturday’s Scotts E-Z Seed 300, she was told she would be parking the car.

See also
Jennifer Jo Cobb Refuses to Start-and-Park; Claims Contract With No. 79 Team Broken

This, according to Cobb, breached her contract 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 jeopardizing 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, eventually leading 272 of the race’s 300 laps, not to mention procuring his fourth straight Bristol NASCAR victory and 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 smackdown 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-and-park teams such as Team Rensi. In fact, the tire issue caused Kevin 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 leaderboard 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.

See also
Holding a Pretty Wheel: The Greed That Brought the Nationwide Series to Its Knees

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 braintrust (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.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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