Good for Cobb

Published 6:16 pm Friday, March 25, 2011

I typically don’t root for any particular driver in Nationwide Series races. The older guys who have stuck around for years and still race because they can’t live without the sport are usually my favorites.

Guys like Kenny Wallace, Morgan Shepherd and Mike Bliss are guys that I enjoy watching race. But, this week my favorite driver in the field at Auto Club Speedway in California will be Jennifer Jo Cobb. Cobb, a Nationwide Series rookie, kicked up a little dust last weekend in Bristol for simply wanting to compete.

“Start and Park” teams have popped up in all three top divisions in NASCAR over the last several years. The teams basically show up at the track and attempt to qualify for the race. For those teams that qualify, they run a handful of laps and then park the car, collecting purse money.

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A team owner and driver can make a fantastic living using this approach.

Last season, Joe Nemechek earned $2.5 million in prize money in the Sprint Cup series. Front Row Joe started 31 races, finished last seven times, and had a best finish of 27th. But, he earned $2.5 million in purse money.

No one can knock these guys for making a living and, in most cases, the driver and the owner are one in the same. But, this is a sport about competition and teams should compete.

Back to Jennifer Jo Cobb.

Last week at Bristol she was scheduled to drive the No. 79 car fielded by Rick Russell and 2nd Chance Motorsports. As the story goes, Russell informed her about 10 minutes before the race to run a few laps and then come to the garage.

Cobb, claiming that she was not informed about the owner’s desire to park the car, decided not race and climbed out of the car as the field was entering the track. Cobb wanted to compete. Good for her.

While her decision could have resulted in career suicide, it has turned out well for Cobb. Almost immediately, Rick Ware Racing offered her a ride for this week’s race at Fontana and her souvenir sales have tripled. Race fans have even gone as far as sending monetary donations to help with expenses as she builds her career.

I have to believe that Cobb will be a fan favorite this week and I know I will be pulling for her to have a strong run.

Kyle Busch might as well change his name to Mr. Bristol. Busch won both the Nationwide and Sprint cup races last week and jumped eight spots to land in sixth in the points standings.

The older Busch, Kurt, is atop the standings, followed by Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Paul Menard in the top five. Yep, Paul Menard is in the top five. With the new points system, only 14 points separate first and fifth.

Just as Busch is Mr. Bristol, Jimmie Johnson is Mr. California with five career wins in SoCal. Look for Johnson to improve on that number this weekend as he wins number six.