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Still, "fine" is a relative term, and, until coming to NASCAR, Montoya has never really been "fine" with his teammates. That's not really how it works in Formula One, where the team dynamics are so cutthroat that teammates are often the most bitter of rivals.
Montoya had seemed to soften since his 2006 move to NASCAR, where he became close with then-teammates David Stremme and Dario Franchitti.
Franchitti had known Montoya for years through various open-wheel series in the U.S. and abroad, knew of his hot-tempered ways, and was friends with many drivers who had done stints as Montoya's teammate.
So when Franchitti came to NASCAR, he spoke to Jimmy Vasser, who teamed with Montoya in CART, and had no qualms about working with him after that conversation.
"I knew it was not true that Juan can't be a good teammate because Jimmy told me so," Franchitti once said.
If the friction hasn't blown over by this weekend's race at Atlanta, it won't necessarily mean that EGR will have a drama-packed weekend. If McMurray and Montoya never go to dinner together or watch movies at the track, it won't matter so long as the tension stays separate from the actual teams -- something Pattie seemed convinced Monday will not be a difficult task.
"I'd say this is something between the drivers and has no effect at all on any of us on the shop floor," Pattie said. "The teams work really good together, and we won't let that change."
But what about Montoya's harsh remarks, which Pattie tried in vain to curb as the driver ranted on the team radio?
"People gotta understand that when you wreck good race cars, that's bad," said Pattie, "when it happens with a teammate, well, that's worse."
Pattie speaks from experience, too. After all, he was Scott Pruett's crew chief back in 2007 when Montoya wrecked his teammate to win the Nationwide Series race at Mexico City. It was Pattie and Pruett who had the harsh words that day, and although tension lingered for a bit, everyone eventually moved on.
"This is something that can go away with one conversation between Chip and the drivers," Pattie said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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