Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito?: Bristol Brings Out the Worst in Everyone

The big story following the 13 days of hype before Bristol is that ratings were down to a scant 3.9 Nielsen rating; last year’s Atlanta race carried a 4.8 rating, while Bristol being ran the next week following the Brad Keselowski aerial escapade notched a 5.3. Attendance suffered as well, looking more like a typical Nationwide Bristol event in the spring, not the Cup race which benefited from a fortnight of reminiscing of races from Bristol’s past – most involving somebody getting wrecked and tossing something of zero effect at the offending driver.

Well… at least it should be the big story.

But it isn’t, since the biggest issue facing the sport right now is that a team residing 41st in Nationwide Series owner points had their driver quit 10 minutes before the race started on Saturday (March 19) because she didn’t want to start-and-park it. Much has been made of the he said/she said between car owner Rick Russell and driver Jennifer Jo Cobb, and now there are criminal allegations being made against Cobb and crew chief Steve Kuykendall.

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

Russell has now filed a police report claiming Cobb stole $16,000 in racecar parts from his race shop following the falling out from the weekend. The purse Saturday for finishing dead last at Bristol? $16,668. No offense to JJC and not wanting to besmirch her good name and career-best finish of 30th in Nationwide competition but come on, that’s a lot of money to drive around for about 30 seconds, even if you were going to get bounced next week at California.

After a relatively quiet weekend in Thunder Valley, it’s heartening to see Bristol still brings out the worst in some people, chief among them Kevin Harvick. On Saturday, he lambasted his crew and crew chief David Hyder for making changes that offered no effect to his No. 33 KHI Chevrolet – even after using his input.

On Sunday, he was spun on the backstretch after slowing abruptly in front of the No. 5 of Mark Martin following contact with Kasey Kahne. Harvick rallied to a sixth-place finish but cited Martin at fault for “running over us again.” This now brings the total up to The Entire Field that Harvick has now had a problem with during his 11-year Cup career; including his own teams.

About the author

Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

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