Montoya's a triple threat

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

On motorsports' most prestigious weekend of the year, Juan Pablo Montoya has an opportunity to do something no other race car driver as ever done: Post a win at each of the big U.S. Memorial Day weekend races.

Montoya already has a victory at Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix (2003) and a win in the Indianapolis 500 (2000).

A win in NASCAR Sprint Cup's Coca-Cola 600 Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway would complete the triple crown and enshrine the talented Colombian in racing lore.

But first, Montoya might want to try to get along with the folks who make sure his No. 42 Ganassi Racing Dodge is able to run with the leaders.

So far this season, it has been something that Montoya hasn't been able to do -- either get along with his crew or run with the leaders -- outside of his surprise second-place finish at Talladega April 27.

Yesterday -- for the third time in the span of just one month -- Ganassi announced a crew chief change on the No. 42 team. Out is respected Sprint Cup veteran Jimmy Elledge and in is Ganassi Nationwide crew chief Brian Pattie.

Elledge -- also know as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s brother-in-law -- was on the pit box at Talladega after he replaced Donnie Wingo, who now is running the show for the No. 41 Dodge of Reed Sorenson.

Team owner Chip Ganassi had pegged Montoya's sophomore season in Sprint Cup as the year he would make it into the Chase for the Championship, but finishes of 32nd at Richmond, 23rd at Darlington after Talladega have him back in 16th spot, 500 points behind of leader Kyle Busch.

Ganassi needs to either step up the program to give Montoya a race car capable of competing for wins week in and week out, or he will have to make sure his contact list of crew chiefs is kept up to date.

THE RATH OF ROTH

If there is one certainty for a Canadian journalist covering the Indianapolis 500, it is that he/she will be the brunt of Marty Roth jokes on a regular basis.

For the third time in four attempts, Roth, a native of Toronto, will wheel his No. 25 Honda-powered Dallara into the 11th and last row on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway grid.

And in each of those years, writers and broadcasters from across North America ask the usually lone Canuck in the media room: "Hey, care to put a few loonies on Roth being the first car out of the race?"

In his three previous tries at the Brickyard, Roth didn't even have to break a sweat making the field, because just about anybody with four Firestone tires and a Honda engine was guaranteed starting positions.

But not this year. Roth, in fact, made it on to the grid in the old-fashioned way -- by sweating it out on Bump Day and he is a real threat to finish the race for the first time.

Among those he beat out were former Indy winner Buddy Lazier and former Champ Car World Series regular Mario Dominguez.

"My guys did a great job putting the car out. They've been working hard," Roth said after finally securing a post in Sunday's race. "They haven't slept in the last two days."

It's doubtful the razzing can be stopped, but at least the only Canadian in the field this year will have gotten there on his merits.

FINISH LINE

The F-1 race around the principality of Monaco has been Fernando Alonso's personal playground for the past two years and he's hoping for a three-peat Sunday for his team Renault. But the Spanish driver's logic was somewhat suspect when asked this week what it would take to win for a third time: "Monaco is a completely different race and you only win if you finish the race." What?


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