Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ask the Crew Chief

This question wasn't asked by anyone per se, but it’s appropriate for this weekend.  “What do I think of the start-and-park rule?”

The start-and-park rule…always an interesting topic.  Easiest definition for start-and-park is when you start the race, then after a certain amount of laps you are called into the garage and sit there for a number of laps.  This is repeated during the race at certain intervals.  Now for my input on it.  I agree with it, to help save money and for the smaller teams to use the car the next week since they may not be able to afford to build new cars each week.   I also see a downside to this rule.  I don’t find it fair that these drivers who put everything on the line have to sit in the garage during the race.  I understand that it’s for the benefit of the team, but it’s horrible for the driver.  Imagine you are a driver and you’re going to, let’s say, the third race of the year.  You are ready to go, complete twenty laps and are getting comfortable with the car, then are called into the garage for another twenty laps.  You’re going to be pretty annoyed because you felt the car was good and you could have a good day with a good finishing position.  As you can see by this example, I’m on the fence about this whole start-and-park rule

Perfect example was yesterday with Jennifer Jo Cobb and 2nd Chance Motorsports.  Jennifer was supposed to start 41st in the Nationwide race, but ten minutes before the race, Rick Russell, the team owner told her that she would have to be a start-and-park this week to save the car for California next week.  When “Drivers, start your engines!” was said, Jennifer was not in her car.  When Cobb was found and asked what was wrong, she said, “There were rumblings all week about our team starting and parking. I have made a commitment to my sponsors, my fans and NASCAR that I’m not a start-and-park driver. I’m really serious about this. I have to work hard to prove to people that I’m serious about this. The conversation was never had with me until 10 minutes before the race started that I was to start and park.” She continued, “Ten minutes before the race he told me not only am I starting and parking to save his car for California, but that he would be replacing me as a driver in California.” Cobb also said that she has plans for next week with another team.  Seems plausible to me.  Now for her team owner, Rick Russell’s point of view.  Russell said that on Friday morning, he held a crew meting and told everyone they were there for good practice, qualifying, make a few laps, then park the car to save it for California.  When asked what he thought he said, “She waited until five minutes until start time and told her crew chief and her other people that worked for her and they left. I’m sitting on pit road with a car without a driver and made myself look stupid, NASCAR look stupid, the whole bunch of us look stupid.’’  Tim Andrews will drive the car next week at California. 

Whether you decide to believe Jennifer or Rick, it’s up to you.  As for me, I’m not sure who I believe, seeing how the two stories are totally different.    All I know is that I’m not too sure I like the start-and-park rule because it leads to incidents like this.  

1 comment:

  1. It makes little difference. Do what you committed to do. Follow what your superiors told you to do IN WRITING, Then take that document with you as you are looking for a new ride. Let the folks on th weird wacky web howl like smashed cats, and light their hair on fire on your behalf, while you stay professionally above the fray.