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Jennifer Jo Cobb: I won't start-and-park!

  Jennifer Jo Cobb (Photo: Autostock)

   By Mike Mulhern


   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   While Kyle Busch was making mincemeat again of the field in dominating Saturday's Nationwide 300, a bit of drama was playing out deeper in the field.
   Jennifer Jo Cobb, the up-and-coming independent racer, who has been piecing together rides and sponsorships over the past year, in a bid to make it in NASCAR, says her newest car owner/partner told her just before the race to 'start-and-park.'

   The start-and-park phenomenon has been uncontrollable the past two years in this sport, with short fields and fewer than 43 solid Nationwide operations. Teams will show up and qualify, then pull off and park after a few laps, content to collect last place money. And with the price of tires, and the tire problems here, a number of teams simply didn't even practice Friday.
    Cobb: "It feels like such a 'Jerry Maguire' moment.
   "There were rumblings all week about us 'start-and-parking' this race.
    "I have a commitment to my sponsors, my fans, NASCAR that I won't start and park. I'm very serious about my career and my performance, and I've worked hard to prove it to everyone.
    "The conversation was never had with me until 10 minutes before the race that I was to start and park.
    "I had already bought tires for the race, so you can imagine that this was a blow to my principles and my finances to get this news.
    "As the owner, he has the right to ask NASCAR to black flag me (if she wouldn't park) and said he would do that if I didn't comply.
    "There were also rumors that he was going to surprise me and take me out of the car at California (next week's stop).
    "We have a five-race agreement that says I am racing for him, which is why I decided to collect Nationwide points and not Camping World Truck points.
    "Because of those promises, I made decisions accordingly for my career.
      "So, after thinking about it for a few minutes -- which there weren't many -- I made a decision to walk away.
     "I thank God for giving me the strength to do that. Sometimes that is the best thing to do.
     "I just felt like I owed it to my fans and my sponsors that I'm seeking and to NASCAR that if I say 'I'm here to race,' that I go out and race."
     There was no immediate comment from her now former car owner, Rick Russell.
     Further updates may be available at Cobb's Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/JJCRacing

   In other news, Mike Dillon, competition boss for Richard Childress' four-car operation, has been diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung.
   Dillon, 46, has undergone a series of hospital tests and is awaiting results. He was released from the hospital Saturday.


  Hey, how about these new International NASCAR haulers! Jack Roush has several of them, and so does Chip Ganassi. Pretty swift, eh? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Good for her. I am tired of

Good for her. I am tired of the start and park thing I would rather see a smaller competitive field then a large field with cars pulling into the garage after only a lap or to. Also I would like to see NASCAR put it's foot down and say that like the top 35 in points any team that shows u,p with a full team and gear and the intent to run the full race is quarantined to star as LONG as there are fewer then 43 of those teams at the track and that the start and parks have to fight for what is left.

Jennifer Jo Cobb

Not to worry! You will see a much smaller field in the future, with as many competitive cars as the megateams can find sponsors for. Did anybody notice that even though it was predicted that Cup fields would pick up when the series returned to the east coast it didnt happen? 44 cars is all for Bristol? Maybe they're waiting for....

Instead of blaming the guys and gals who are starting and parking, maybe somebody should ask why its happening. Perhaps the Top 35 rule and Megateams? Yep, pretty spiffy those International tractors for Roush and Ganassi. Meanwhile you have the S&P's. So I guess all is well.

Glad to see a driver stand up

Glad to see a driver stand up for themselves and not rob the fans. That's exactly what the start-&-parkers do: steal the money by riding around for a few laps. NASCAR likes it because they make the field look full when the race starts, when in actuality there are 43 minus 6-7 cars actually racing. As expensive as the sport is now, at least to be competitive, and as bad as the economy is, don't look for it to improve any time soon. Get rid of the Top 35 rule, get rid of traditional qualifying. Start 36 cars, and make everyone race their way in.

Why would any driver or team

Why would any driver or team even consider doing the "start and park?" If they go to the expense of buying or building a car, travelling to the venue, practicing, qualifying, then why not run the race? Jennifer took a big risk by walking away, and I applaud her for standing firm onher morals and desire to prove that she has the talent to rin the full season and be competitive. I hope a team signs her to run the remainder of the season!

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