By admin | August 6, 2010
By Richard Allen
To say the least, Juan Pablo Montoya and his crew have had two weekends filled with dissention during the races at Indianapolis and Pocono. So much so that after a late race pit stop in Pocono in which the #42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet lost crucial spots, the 35 year old Colombian driver unleashed an expletive filled tirade at his team. and particularly crew chief Brian Pattie.
Anyone who happened to hear the scanner chatter, which was replayed in full on the Showtime program Inside NASCAR, might well have labeled the exchange as one of contempt rather than a competitive disagreement.
The issue goes back to the Brickyard 400, which Montoya appeared to be on his way to winning for the second year in a row only to have a pit road mistake cost him for the second year in a row. During a late race stop, Pattie called for a four tire change. As it turns out at least six other cars went with two tires and gained crucial track position.
Ultimately, Montoya slammed against the outside wall after his car handled poorly in the so called ‘dirty air’. Pattie blamed himself for the pit blunder.
In Pocono, Montoya and team once again found themselves in contention as a late race pit decision had to be made. Pattie told his driver to listen for his call, which was to be made as late as possible so as not to tip off any competitors who might be listening over the open channel. As the car approached the pit stall the crew chief barked the instruction to change four tires. After the crew finished their work on the right side of the car, Montoya allowed the machine to roll forward a few inches which upset the timing of the stop. As a result, positions were lost.
Once the cars cleared pit road Pattie keyed his microphone and said, “You’re coming to Charlotte to practice pit stops, pal.”
That obviously did not sit well with Montoya, who lives in Florida. From that point he launched into a nearly lap long dressing down of Pattie and the team using language that will not be printed here.
Even the command of team manager Tony Glover to focus on the task at hand did little to stop the anger storm.
This week in Watkins Glen, this team will come into the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen as one of the favorites. Montoya’s two NASCAR wins were both scored on road courses, a Nationwide Series victory in Mexico and a Sprint Cup win in Sonoma. The former Formula 1 star had considerably more experience on road circuits than ovals when he first came to stock car racing.
No doubt, the pressure is on this driver and this team this weekend. Much of that pressure will in all likelihood be self-imposed. Should they do well, it could be that their recent troubles might be forgiven. However, a loss, especially one involving an issue on pit road, could lead to an even more contentious relationship.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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