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From the Marbles

It’s Your 2013 Exit Interview: No. 23 Denny Hamlin

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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. Denny's Diner. Or something. We're going to run out of alliterations.

Denny, this meeting seems quite different than it would have been based off of what happened at Homestead, doesn't it?

Before Homestead, we're talking about a season of struggles even without that nasty back injury. Your performance on the track was sub-par, and we were all left scratching our heads while your other two teammates made hay.

Because of those struggles, you were a good company man by agreeing to essentially become a guinea pig for your team during the Chase. And that guinea pig's wheel didn't go very fast. The struggles continued in the Chase.

But screw it, the guinea pig mentality was gone for Homestead, even if you weren't completely sure of it until after the race. You finally looked like you were driving the same equipment as your teammates. Wherever they were, you were. And that was the top 10 for most of the day.

The relief in your voice and on your face was palpable. You were back. Or at worst, if you weren't back per se, you knew you could be back. Any doubt of "what the heck am I doing wrong?" was erased over 400 miles in South Florida.

We're willing to chalk this one up as an aberration. And we're going to apologize for all of that crazy talk when you first came back from that back injury when people openly wondered if you could make the Chase despite missing four races. You gave them ammunition after you were second and fourth in the first two races back.

And then your next top five came with that Homestead win.

Next year, we're expecting you back in the Chase. But if you're back there, and so is Tony Stewart, then that's going to mean two drivers are out. Looking at the 2013 field, that's a tough call, don't you think. We're looking forward to it. And we're incredibly glad that there's a SAFER barrier on that wall in California on the off-chance you ever meet it again.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

Previous Reviews: 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

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