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Montoya latest to make crew chief change

Juan Montoya has joined the growing list of drivers unlikely to make the Chase to decide to replace their pit crew chief in an attempt to revive their season fortunes.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing has announced that Juan Montoya's long-time crew chief Brian Pattie is to be replaced by Jim Pohlman on an interim basis with immediate effect.

Pattie has been Montoya's crew chief since taking over from Jimmy Elledge a third of the way into the 2008 season, and the pairing succeeded in getting Montoya into the Chase in 2009 and propelled Montoya to his Cup race win on the road course at Watkins Glen in 2010 during a 115-race association.

However, Montoya finished only 17th in the Cup points last year and is in the same position in the 2011 season after 19 of the 36 races, and with only seven races remaining until the Chase cut-off. Standing 59pts adrift of the top ten, Montoya's hopes of making it into the Chase increasingly appear to rest on securing a race win and claiming one of the two wildcard berths.

Montoya's best chance of this will be in the upcoming second road race of the year on August 14, back Watkins Glen which saw Montoya's success in the previous season. Next week's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also a prime opportunity for the Colombian, after two strong performances in past years coming close to giving him his much-sought-after first oval win in NASCAR. It's a venue Montoya knows well from other series, being a former Indianapolis 500 winner in 2000 before his switch to F1.

Possibly disrupting the team going into two such strong opportunities for the #42 is a risk and seems curiously timed at such a critical juncture. However, the schedule which allows a rare weekend off this week from Cup competition appears to be allowing teams the breathing space to make urgent changes.

Montoya and Pattie had looked closed to a professional divorce midway through the 2010 season before the looming breach was healed by that famous victory at Watkins Glen. This year, with no such silver lining in prospect, the final straw appears to have been confusion over where to line-up for a critical late restart at Kentucky coupled with running out of fuel on the last lap of Sunday's race at New Hampshire, which saw Montoya fall to 30th place and lose vital points despite pitting later than the eventual race winner Ryan Newman.

Pattie is being replaced on an interim basis by Jim Pohlman, 33, who joined the team in 2006 and was crew chief for David Stremme in 2007, also working as John Andretti's chief mechanic at the Daytona 500 in 2009 among a variety of engineering and research and development roles for the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team. Prior to that he was car chief for Bill Elliott who won the 2002 Brickyard 400 for Ray Evernham's team.

"We are pleased to have someone of Jim's caliber to be able to place into this role on the #42 team," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "Jim has been with us a number of years and I have confidence in his abilities to move the team forward."

Recent weeks have seen Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle and AJ Allmendinger all change their crew chiefs, while Penske's change of technical director worked wonders for the team's performance earlier in the season and Stewart-Haas' shake-up and change of director of competition culminated in last weekend's famous 1-2 triumph for Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart.




Related Pictures

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Juan Montoya led the first 25 laps of the Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond International Raceway before being passed by Clint Bowyer. [Picture Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]
Juan-Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, at the 2009 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway [pic credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Juan Montoya in the garage area. [Picture Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images]
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola (R), driver of the #43 Charter Ford, inspects his car after crashing during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 United States Air Force Ford, walks through the garage area prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/NASCARA via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A large incident occurs in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 United States Air Force Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 after the race was called for weather at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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