Montoya happier now with changes

As Juan Pablo Montoya tried to explain his renewed commitment to Chip Ganassi Racing, the boss man walked up the stairs into the driver's motor home for a surprise visit. "Were your ears burning?" Montoya asked Ganassi. "No, why? Were you talking about me?" Ganassi answered. Before his star driver could reply, the owner had Montoya in a headlock as the two playfully greeted each other at Pocono Raceway. The relationship between the two is as strong as ever, surviving a rocky stretch last month when Montoya openly questioned the direction of Ganassi's NASCAR team. His criticism came after crew chief Donnie Wingo was transferred off his team, and a month later, replacement Jimmy Elledge was fired. It gave Montoya his third crew chief in just over a month, and despite the praise everyone around him had for Brian Pattie, the driver wasn't pleased with the change. Montoya wasn't convinced Pattie wanted the job, and didn't think the crew chief liked him very much. Three races and two test sessions later, he's had a complete change of heart. "A lot of people told me Brian would be good, but until it happens — I've been told so many times in my career that things are going to be great and then they are not," Montoya said. "I'd rather wait and see. The way I've always been is if you expect great things, the fall is a lot bigger. This way I got to be pleasantly surprised." Montoya has been impressed with Pattie's dedication and focus on fostering the relationship. He praised Pattie for the frequent visits he makes to Montoya's motor home to go over notes, future setups and, more importantly, to bond with the driver. "He's the one making the extra effort to bond together and we go at it the right way," Montoya said. "It gives you a lot of confidence as a driver. You can see the guy trying hard and you'll do what he wants. You'll go the extra mile for him. With Wingo, we worked really hard, we worked really well together and I thought it was pretty good and we had a lot of respect for each other. With Elledge, I liked the guy because he was really aggressive and he was willing to try anything whether it was stupid or not. With this guy, he's a combination of both." And as for the rumors that Montoya might leave Ganassi to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing next season? Nothing to them, Montoya said. "I've got a deal with Chip, and I am 100 percent behind Chip," he said. Associated Press

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