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Crew chief Brian Pattie answers your questions

ESPN.com's NASCAR Icons took some readers' questions and went to Brian Pattie, crew chief for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, for the answers.

After a successful stint in the Nationwide series that featured 19 poles and 18 victories, Pattie took over in May as the crew chief for the No. 42 car driven by Juan Pablo Montoya.

Pattie, 33, started out in NASCAR in 1994 as a fabricator for Joe Nemechek's team in the Nationwide series and in 1996 moved to Hendrick Motorsports for a similar job on the No. 25 Sprint Cup team.

Nemechek hired him back in 1997 as a crew chief in the Nationwide series and in 2003 he also held the position as team manager and crew chief for the No. 7 and No. 87 cars at NEMCO Motorsports.

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates lured Pattie away in 2004 to be the Nationwide series crew chief for the No. 41 car. Before making the jump to the top series this year, Pattie worked with such drivers as Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson, David Stremme, Scott Pruett, Michael Valiante, Kevin Hamlin, Scott Lagasse Jr. and Dario Franchitti.

You can hear more from Pattie on Sunday when Montoya will be the in-race reporter during ESPN's broadcast [2 p.m. ET] of the Centurion Boats at the Glen race at Watkins Glen International.

Here are your questions and Pattie's answers:

How much time is typically spent at the garage by a crew chief during the week leading up to a Sprint Cup race?
George,
Chino, Calif.

Pattie: If you mean at the shop, it varies with the travel plans for that week. Most of the time, I will go to the shop when I land from the previous week and look over next week's cars.

At that time I will come up with a plan for Monday and Tuesday for the team. Remember that a lot of prep work for that week's race has been going on a couple weeks prior to the race week.

Monday and Tuesday are long days for everyone. Everyone gets to work at 6:30 a.m. and we work for 10 to 12 hours on those days. Wednesdays are catch-up days with notes or scheduling for about four to six weeks out. Thursdays are travel days and most of the time we are off until it's time to depart for the next race.

Is the Car of Tomorrow setup totally different than the old car or do some of the things crossover from the old setup?
Dennis,

Red Hill, Pa.

Pattie: The setup on the COT is pretty different than the old car.

One reason is the splitter height is 4 inches off the ground and on the older cars we would travel the front valances up to 8 inches. So the limit in travel has changed the camber curves we run and the spring combinations.

Also a big factor is the zero offset that the COT car has compared to the 1-inch offset allowed with the older cars. So wheel travels and wheel weights are different both statically and dynamically. With this, we have to change a lot of our spring, shock and track bar combos to best perform for any given race.

So in review or the easiest way to say it, really nothing has been able to correlate from the older style cars to the COT.

Why do they race counter clockwise at most tracks and at road courses they race clockwise?
Simone,
Surprise, Ariz.

Pattie: I think that the track personnel when building the tracks decide the direction that we run at road courses.

Now that you asked that, it's pretty funny that we run the same direction on the road courses and opposite on the oval tracks. Seeing we only race at two road courses, I will have to ask that question to someone myself.

Sorry if I couldn't answer that question as I should know why.

Do Cup teams usually run a longer wheelbase on the right side or left side and why?
Don Scott

Pattie: Most of the teams run the left side wheelbase longer. Some people think that as you turn the steering wheel the wheelbase should be even or longer on left. Wheelbase opinions vary a lot, which is why it is hard to predict what teams do what to their setups.

With the small box we have in the COT era of racing it's hard to achieve everything that old school racers think would be optimum. We do what we can to lead the wheelbase on the left, but some rules limit us for going as far as we would like.

Some people also don't like much lead in the left because of the feeling of being loose on entry because the front end of the car is too positive. So if you ask 10 crew chiefs this same question you may get 10 different answers.