Commentary

Wife's birthday getaway saves weekend for struggling Hornish

At least Sam Hornish Jr. enjoyed his weekend in Sonoma County's wine country off the track. On the track? Not so much fun, he writes in his diary.

Updated: June 27, 2008, 1:05 PM ET
By Sam Hornish Jr. | Special to ESPN.com

Well, when I was away from Infineon, I had a pretty good time last weekend. It was the only time I felt good about things. The only time I felt good about the car was in qualifying, and that's really the only time. Hey, we did what we had to do there. It is what it is. I am looking forward to Watkins Glen later in the summer. It's a much different type of road course, with high-speed places and passing, so that should be a lot of fun.

[+] EnlargeSam Hornish Jr
Rusty Jarrett/Getty ImagesSam Hornish Jr. started 17th but finished 31st on the road course at Sonoma.

It was my wife, Crystal's, birthday, so I took her shopping last Saturday, which I wouldn't say was very romantic but it worked for me. I got to take her along so she could get what she wanted, and I didn't have to take anything back. The trip was a lot of fun. We didn't have Addison with us, so Crystal had a chance to get some sleep.

We did leave the track on Friday, took a left and drove through the wine country. We didn't see any of the fires that started in the hills, but we saw on television about the lightning strikes and all of the fires.

Now we head to New Hampshire. It was the first track at which I tried to qualify last year, and I'm excited to go back. We felt we should have made that race last year. Everyone told me not to overdrive, and I ended up not driving hard enough. We were right there in terms of qualifying, and we just missed. It was as close as we would come to making it into a race.

Silly season seems to have started earlier, and I'm a little bit into it. There's a lot of speculation about my teammate, Ryan Newman. A couple of years ago, we redid my contract at Penske Racing, and to be honest, I thought all of us had the same timing on our contracts. It was news to me the possibility he might not be back. Kurt Busch and Ryan have been equal in terms of how much they've helped me out. The thought of one of these two not being back … who would they hire? I'm wondering if that person will help me like these guys have. I like them both a lot. They're totally different, and I'd miss either if one of them is not there. There's a lot of weird silly-season stuff going on, and we certainly haven't seen it all unfold yet.

Kyle Busch won his fifth race of the season, and seeing what he's been able to do makes you want to be like that guy as far as winning. To see someone hit on something and carry it well, that's been impressive. You sit there and wonder what has Joe Gibbs Racing has that Hendrick Motorsports doesn't? Did Kyle just hit on something? It's a neat deal because it shows you that if you find something, you can turn it around like he has.

I didn't know NHRA Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta, and I can honestly say that video of his accident is one I don't think I ever need to see. It was a terrible tragedy, and I feel for his family. I don't have a problem talking about the risks because you can't do what we do without thinking about it. You know the possibilities. I've had big accidents, and I've been upside down in a car. When people say, 'He died doing what he loves,' I can say I don't feel that way. I mean, I love what I do, but I want to be around to play with my daughter and do so many things. If I had to go before my time, I guess I could say that, but … I've met a lot of drag racers, but I never had the opportunity to meet Scott. His accident was a very tragic thing.

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.