Juan Pablo Montoya said he was not too dejected about missing out on what seemed a likely first NASCAR Sprint Cup oval victory at Richmond.
The Colombian looked certain to claim his first win in the series in nearly three years, and only his third in total, heading into the final 10 laps. His lead was wiped out however when Brian Vickers hit the wall and brought out a late caution. Montoya was forced to pit for fresh rubber, restarted from sixth and the unfavorable outside line, and eventually came home fourth.
"Am I happy? Yeah," Montoya told reporters after the Richmond race. "I mean, where's the best finish before this? Look at the last six races – we had fuel pump, gearbox, loose tire, flat tire, loose tire... So to actually get a finish? Wow."
Montoya said had debated trying to stay out on old rubber during the caution, but eventually said his hand was forced by the need for points.
Jeff Burton opted to stay out and restarted from first, but fell to fifth at the finish. AJ Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray did likewise but dropped to 14th and 26th respectively.
"When we got the green-white-checkered, we thought, OK, we'll see what happens," Montoya added. "We got screwed; we were on the outside. We had them covered [but] there's nothing you can do; it's racing."
Race winner Kevin Harvick, who finished 1.5 seconds ahead of Montoya, said he doubted he could have beaten Montoya without the late caution.
"I don't think so," Harvick said when asked if he could have caught Montoya."My car had lost drive up off the corner...I think I had a better shot to win starting seventh (on the restart).
"I don't think I was going to catch Montoya, because he had a little bit better drive up off the corner at that point."