|Pattie and Bowyer have been a feel-good story.|
After a season that saw the former F1 and IndyCar star finish a woeful 21st in championship points, with only two Top-5 finishes in 36 starts, Pattie and longtime Ganassi employees Steve Hmiel and Tony Glover were handed their walking papers in a housecleaning move designed to give the team a fresh start in 2012.
Almost a year later, Montoya is once again 21st in championship points, with no Top-5 finishes and only two Top-10 showings in 26 races to date. Pattie, meanwhile, has become one of 2012’s best feel-good stories. He and driver Clint Bowyer are in the thick of the hunt for the Sprint Cup Series championship; one of two teams to make the Chase out of the Michael Waltrip Racing stable.
Pattie admits, albeit grudgingly, that the sting of last year’s dismissal has motivated him to achieve this season.
“Clint and I both need to prove ourselves,” said Pattie this week. “Clint lost his ride at Richard Childress Racing last year and I lost my job at Ganassi. We have a lot to prove, and hopefully we will do that in the next 10 weeks.”
Asked if he and Bowyer carry chips on their respective shoulders after unhappy endings to the 2011 campaign, Pattie admitted, “Yes, probably so.
“I’m a modest person, and I don’t talk bad about anybody,” he said. “I guess both of those organizations (RCR and Ganassi) did what they felt like they needed to do, but I’d be lying if I said that hasn’t been a bit of a motivator."
He stressed, however, that he is firmly focused on the challenges of the next 10 weeks, rather than on the past. “We’re not going to let (last year) distract us from our goals,” said Pattie. “I want to beat the No. 48 this year. I want to beat the 24, the 5 and the 11. I want to beat them all.
“It doesn’t really matter what happened in the past,” he said. “It’s the future that matters, and right now, the future looks pretty bright.”
Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images