Fairer Sex Crying Foul: Bristol Issues for Danica Patrick, Jennifer Jo Cobb

Brian PolkingContributor IIMarch 20, 2011

Patrick expresses her frustratiions.
Patrick expresses her frustratiions.Geoff Burke/Getty Images

It was a rough afternoon for female drivers Danica Patrick and Jennifer Jo Cobb at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday to say the least.

Patrick’s much anticipated short track debut ended with a hard wreck, while Cobb’s day ended before she ever got behind the wheel.

After getting lapped twice early in the event, Patrick had settled into a spot inside the top 20. She weathered a few taps and bumps and appeared headed to a respectable Bristol debut.

At Lap 247, that all changed. Patrick exited Turn 2 alongside Ryan Truex, the two made contact, and Partrick ended up slamming hard into the outside wall. Replays showed that Truex did come down on Patrick, but Danica didn’t exactly leave him a lot of room by the wall either.

In what is quickly becoming her trademark, Patrick exploded after the incident. She dropped some expletives over her radio, and she later mocked Truex’s aggressive style in a pit road interview, claiming that he drives “hard” all the time.

She is by no means the first driver to get upset over an on-track incident at Bristol, but she probably shouldn’t get so fired up about wrecking when she is two laps down in 17th. It’s not like a win was hanging in the balance, and it’s not like she is competing for the series title.

Patrick better get used to it because short track racing is a physical, contact-heavy ordeal. If she ever gets to a stage in her career when she is running up front at a short track, the bumping and banging she experienced Saturday will seem like a walk in the park.

At least Patrick can take solace in the fact that her day wasn’t nearly as embarrassing as Cobb’s afternoon at Bristol.

She was asked to start-and-park the No. 79 car by team owner Rick Russell.

How did she respond?

She quit and refused to get behind the wheel of the car for the start of the race.

Cobb responded to the situation by lashing out with an elaborate rant about being too committed to the fans and to her career to demean herself with a start-and-park.

Newsflash to Cobb, there are a lot of drivers that have accomplished a lot more than she has that now start-and-park on a regular basis. For better or worse, the strategy is a legitimate way for smaller teams to survive in the sports while the economy struggles.

Guys like Joe Nemechek, who have won races at the Cup Series level mind you, start-and-park, make some cash and run complete races when they have the funds to do so. Nobody wants to start-and-park, but you don’t see Nemechek walking out on his team.

Cobb’s car owner’s reasons for asking her to start-and-park made sense. The team doesn’t have a stable of cars to work with, and he didn’t want to risk his only current chassis at a violent track like Bristol.

While the sides differ on when the decision was made to start-and-park, Cobb’s decision to quit is inexcusable. She is trying to work her way up the ranks, and even a handful of laps is valuable experience.

Her reasons for quitting are equally preposterous. How is she showing commitment to her fans by quitting moments before the race? What kind of message does that send to any girl that admires her attempt to compete in a male-dominated sport?

She essentially said that it is okay to quit when things don’t go your way.

Granted, Cobb is fighting an uphill battle that most people can’t even imagine, but that is still no excuse to quit.

Patrick’s post-wreck rant is forgivable, but Cobb’s decision could haunt her for the rest of her racing career.