Unusual Suspects Finish Well
June 30, 2008 | 11:44 A.M. EST
The top 10 finishing order from the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 has about as many surprises as any race this season.
Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley, Martin Truex, Jr., Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and Casey Mears are all among Sunday's top finishers.
But although the crazy ending to Sunday's race is responsible for finding names most fans aren't accustomed to seeing finish so well, none of the drivers are apologizing.
"The rain isn't why I'm sitting here," Waltrip said. "The reason why I'm sitting here is because we got an opportune caution late in the race and took advantage of race position, the same thing we were unable to do all day long last Sunday in California. I would pit, everybody would pit, the caution would come out, then I'd have to pit. So I'm here not because of the thunder you hear outside. I'm here because of strategy and opportune caution that gave me track position."
By not pitting with the leaders on the final caution stop of the day, Waltrip - like Busch - was able to get track position in the front of the field.
"Just got a break there at the end with my strategy pitting and getting enough gas we felt like to get to the end, having a really strong car," Waltrip said. "I passed a bunch of guys to get into position to get to Kurt [Busch] and race him. I really wished there were a few more laps, wished we could have went back to green. As bad as I need those 170 points, [I'm] very cognizant of the difference between first and second. It's huge."
Waltrip not only believes he could have challenged for the win had the race gone back to green, he had a premonition about his good finish.
"I had a vision that this could happen," he said. "You look at the way racing goes these days, it's just different than it used to be. You get track position and you can look like a hero. Getting track position is very difficult. So I felt confident when three or four of them stayed out behind me under the caution that I would have a chance to win the race.
"So if it were surreal, that went away as soon as I looked up and said, 'I could win this thing.' That's a great feeling. I'm real proud of my team."
Martin Truex, Jr.'s fourth-place finish couldn't have come at a better time for the DEI team which has struggled during the first half of the 2008 season.
"This year we'll take anything we can get," Truex said. "We've been on both sides of this stuff before. Proud to get a good finish for all the guys, they're working hard. We had a good car at the beginning of the race, drove up to the front, was looking really good and the track just completely went away from us."
Mears may have had the most satisfying day of his season with a top-10 finish coming days after learning he wouldn't return to the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 car next season.
"We had a really good car and it showed when we got the track position," Mears said. "I'm just real proud of everybody. There are a lot of things going on lately and to have as good of a run as we did today, I'm just real proud of that.
"Unfortunately right there at the end we got out of sequence - fortunately it worked for us," he said. "A lot of those guys came down pit road. But we definitely had a top-five car and we came out seventh so that's a good day for us."
As well as a whole lot of others.