NASCAR President Steve Phelps backed the decision to reject Jennifer Jo Cobb a chance in the Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Cobb was in line to feature in the Cup Series race at Talladega and would have become the third female to compete in a Cup race since 1990 and only the first since Danica Patrick’s 2018 Daytona 500 involvement.
But NASCAR deprived her of this opportunity as NASCAR thought she “wasn’t ready to race in this race”.
Speaking to the media on Sunday, Phelps defended his organization’s decision.
“Steve O’Donnell (NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer), Scott Miller (NASCAR senior vice president of competition), Elton Sawyer (NASCAR vice president of officiating and technical inspection), these guys have decades of experience in this sport,” Phelps said.
“In their opinion, Jennifer did not have the experience necessary in order to run in the Cup race. I understand it may seem ambiguous to those outside, but I think they have their finger on the pulse, and in their opinion, Jennifer wasn’t ready to race in this race.
“With that said, we certainly, to your point, on a day where we’re talking about inclusion, would love to have female drivers racing in our top series. It’s something we very much would be interested in doing.
“We’re trying to diversify our driver core. Women, people of color, those are things that are very important to this sport, but as it relates to Jennifer, the group felt that she was not ready.”
As for Cobb, she said the decision was “devastating” for her. Talking to Catchfence.com, she demanded a fairer way to evaluate drivers.
“This is the first I’ve heard of an active driver in one of NASCAR’s top three divisions having to re-apply for approval,” Cobb said. “I would think that at any time my performance would have been an issue, I would have been removed from the system and | or notified.
“All I am asking is to be evaluated the same way the 40 male drivers competing this Sunday were evaluated in their approval process. There are many examples of drivers that are racing with less experience and less performance(s) than I have shown.”