Welcome to From the Marbles' 2013 driver reviews. Here, we're going to critique, praise and bloviate about the top 30 drivers in the 2013 NASCAR season.
Kasey, we're glad that it didn't take you nearly as long to get acclimated to the 2013 season as it did in 2012. However, it seems that the struggles just shifted towards the end of the season. And that meant a rough Chase.
Perhaps nothing encapsulated your Chase more than that spin at New Hampshire. You were coming off the corner and looked to have the car pointed in the right direction. But it snapped sideways on you and you found the inside retaining wall. The Chase was over within two races, and a good run was immediately canceled out by an incident.
Speed wasn't an issue at all last season; you led over 100 laps in a race four times. However, three of those times you didn't close the race out with a win. Two of those were at Charlotte, where you finished second both times. The other was at Las Vegas, where you were also second. That race you finished right behind Matt Kenseth, who you also finished second to three times.
But mixed in with all those top fives (11) was an almost equal amount of poor finishes. You finished worse than 30th nine times. Yeah, You can blame some of those on Joe Gibbs Racing too, namely Kyle Busch. Stay away from him during Speedweeks next year, OK?
That like-for-like ratio continued in the Chase -- and JGR had nothing to do with it. There were three top fives ... and two finishes worse than 30th. If you've gotten the bad juju out of the way this year, 2014 looks awfully bright. If you haven't, well, the sample size of the Chase won't be any more forgiving next year.
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Previous Reviews: No. 13 Carl Edwards, No. 14, Brad Keselowski, No. 15 Jamie McMurray, No. 16 Martin Truex Jr., No. 17 Paul Menard, No. 18 Aric Almirola, No. 19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 20, Jeff Burton, No. 21 Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 22 Marcos Ambrose, No. 23 Denny Hamlin, No. 24 Casey Mears, No. 25 Mark Martin, No. 26 David Gilliland, No. 27 Danica Patrick, No. 28 David Ragan, No. 29 Tony Stewart, No. 30 Dave Blaney