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. It may be our final time to reminisce about the jet dryer incident. Oh heck, no it won't. We're never going to get tired of it.
Juan, we'd like to thank you for your service to NASCAR. While we can say that it wasn't the most successful of ventures, there were some positive moments, and man, was it an eventful career.
You started your NASCAR career with a fireball that few people may remember. It was in the Nationwide Series in 2006. It would be overshadowed, understandably. But we'll get to that.
First there was a win in your rookie season at Sonoma, which probably set the expectations above where they would have been otherwise. Then, two years later, you made the Chase for the only time in your career thanks to 18 top 10s in 36 races. You'd never come close to making it again.
That season ends up looking like an outlier -- you followed it up with a finish of 17th, but no other finish was inside the top 20 in points. Whatever magic combination that you had in 2009 disappeared. And that probably stings a little bit given what Jamie McMurray accomplished in 2010.
We're not sure exactly how not winning an oval race will define your NASCAR career. It's not like you didn't come close -- the top 10s in 2009 are an example of that, and you had legitimate chances that just didn't go your way this season like at Dover and at Richmond. In the latter race, you were damned either way because of that late caution.
But that's going to be a footnote to what happened at Daytona. It's only human nature. People remember the crazy things, and you'll always be remembered as the jet dryer fire guy every year. Not a Daytona 500 will go by without that replay being shown, and if it does, a television producer has not done his or her job. It's something that's still unbelievable today. And we were there to see it in person.
Enjoy your time in IndyCar, Juan. Go win a championship or two. We'll always remember you. It'll just be for that.
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