Ah, the common misunderstanding.
The sandbox is: low trust.
Not a chess clock.
Site history, quality links ( like tedster mentioned, mainstream media can help a LOT ), and the age - lifespan of other links all play into raising your trust. You can write the best code, the most relevant pages and not show up, ever, unless you clear the required threshold for trust ( TrustRank(tm), or whatever they call it at the plex ). Works like magic, and defends the mainstream queries from being overthrown every second day by high-PR spam.
You may be showing for 5,4 word phrases, the threshold is usually set only for generic keywords and terms which are really popular, meaning 1,2,3 word searches ( and... *hint hint* those with a lot of advertiser competition ).
You could sit around for the next 10 years and nothing would happen if the site doesn't have a link profile fit for competition. Yes, as with everything when it comes to Google, Trust is heavily dependant on ( quality, trusted, authority, call it what you will- ) links. Good luck though.