Commentary

It wasn't pretty, but No. 77 Dodge gets back in the top 35

Sam Hornish Jr. writes in his weekly Sprint Cup diary about an 11th-hour crew chief change and a rough-and-tumble night race at Bristol.

Updated: August 29, 2008, 8:06 PM ET
By Sam Hornish Jr.

Sam HornishSam Sharpe/US PresswireSam Hornish Jr. (77) has had better showings than last weekend's 37th-place finish at Bristol.

Bristol just wasn't a very good weekend for us. We had quite a few problems. The upside was we got back out there and got some points and got ourselves in the top 35. It was just too much a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it really was a rough weekend for us. We're going to be better when we go there next time.

We did make a crew chief change before the race, replacing Chris Carrier with Travis Geisler. I'm happy with the switch so far. It's been a learning experience but I definitely believe it's going to be a good move. There's just been so much going on you don't have an opportunity to get things going the way you want them to. It was not the optimal week to make the change, because that's the shortest weekend we have -- one practice, qualifying and then another short practice -- but it was the week the team felt the need to do it.

I knew we needed to change something. I didn't know what the right thing was, and somewhere down the road we'll find out if that's the right move. I had a good relationship with Chris. He's a super great guy. But I feel that it's the team decision on a lot of those things, and that's where we need to be.

We're going to California, and we've got a great opportunity to do something. Michigan was a place we had two runs this year we felt we could be top 15 and for some reason we were 22nd in both of them. Coming out here, we just feel we have a really good chance. Michigan and California are similar, but I always had a lot better luck at California in the Indy cars.

If you'd look at Michigan and California from above, you'd think they are the same track, but when you get there, there are a lot of differences. Michigan is a lot wider and it's a lot older. It's had an opportunity to age and is worn in. California is newer. The track still has a lot of grip, so the bottom line is optimal. I'm looking forward to a good race.

Sam Hornish Jr., 28, drives the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger. He will take ESPN.com readers inside his life on and off the track each week with the help of writer Angelique S. Chengelis.