Five drivers finished the Coke Zero Sugar 400 Sunday (July 7) with career-high finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The drivers — Justin Haley (1st), William Byron (2nd) Ty Dillon (4th), Corey LaJoie (6th) and Matt Tifft (9th) — all finished among the top-10.
BREAKING IT DOWN
For Justin Haley, the 20-year-old driver won the race in his third ever start in the series by inheriting the lead after avoiding the lap 119 crash that involved 18 drivers, electing to not pit under caution, taking the No. 1 position after Kurt Busch pitted, and before lightning and inclement weather ultimately forced NASCAR to call the race.
The move netted Haley and first-year organization Spire Motorsports their first win in NASCAR’s top-tier series.
Prior to the victory, Haley’s highest finish in the Cup Series was a 32nd-place showing at Talladega Superspeedway in April of this season.
“I want to thank Spire Motorsports for giving me this opportunity and also the Fraternal Order of Eagles,” Haley said. “This is my third Cup start. Talladega was supposed to be my debut but it didn’t quite go our way.”
William Byron’s runner-up finish was the first top-five of his Cup Series career, coming in his second full-time season in the series.
Byron’s previous best finishes were two sixth-place finishes (Pocono in July 2018 and Texas in April 2019).
“It would have been cool to win, for sure, but, it would have been a really weird way to win,” Byron said. “So, I’m glad that we got the day out of it that we did.
“I would have liked to go back racing and win it the way I wanted to, but our team did a great job this week managing all the chaos and finishing second with a back-up car is pretty good.”
Ty Dillon also picked up the first top-five finish of his MENCS career.
Dillon’s prior best results were a pair of sixth-place finishes, both coming at Daytona.
“We didn’t have a chance to race for the win but this was a first top-five and best finish ever and I’m pretty pleased with that,” Dillon said.
“I’m thrilled for our Germain Racing Team. It’s a nice little shot in the arm for our team to get the second half of the season going.”
Corey LaJoie netted the first top-10 of his Cup Series career with his sixth-place run for GO FAS Racing.
LaJoie’s previous best finish was 11th-place on two occasions: Daytona in July 2017 and Talladega in April 2019.
“Sixth for us, no matter what the circumstance, is a good day,” LaJoie said. “If you told me I could take a sixth-place finish before we even started I would have taken it to the bank and ran with it.”
Finally, for Matt Tifft, the Rookie-of-the-Year candidate driving for Front Row Motorsports finished in ninth, his first top-10 of his Cup Series career.
Prior to Daytona, Tifft’s best finish was 20th-place on two occasions this year: Phoenix in March and Charlotte in May.
“Honestly, for us it doesn’t matter how we get it a top 10 is huge for our team and for Front Row Motorsports any top 10 is awesome,” Tifft said. “It’s definitely one we’ll celebrate here and a ninth-place finish for our team is awesome.”
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.