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.
Well, we guess it's fitting that you're next, Jeff.
What happened at Richmond wasn't your fault, and you were collateral damage. Kind of like the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The Chiefs missed that field goal, the Chargers won the game and the Steelers missed the playoffs.
BUT WAIT. The Chargers played that play illegally and didn't get caught by NFL officials. The Chiefs could have had a chance to kick the field goal again. The Steelers could have been in the playoffs.
Roger Goodell is not scheduling a press conference for Friday and diverting the Chargers' plane to Cincinnati. If NASCAR was in charge, well, maybe.
And what happened at Chicago to get you into the Chase wasn't your fault either. You were the beneficiary instead of collateral damage. For NASCAR masochists, it was disappointing you didn't win the title. Think of the craziness that could have ensued. It's probably best that it didn't.
That Chase appearance kept you in the top 10 -- you've done that all but one season since 1993, your second season on the circuit. And that win at Martinsville served as a bit of validation, especially after an eight-year winless streak. It probably had to sting just a tad to see the track that you once dominated taken over in that stretch by your teammate.
You also had eight top five finishes this year, which is an exceptional year for a lot of drivers. That's tied for the fewest you've had since 1994. That's the standard you've set for yourself.
Where will that standard be as your career continues? Is there one last run left? It'd be fun to watch.
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Previous Reviews: No. 7 Clint Bowyer, No. 8, Joey Logano, No. 9 Greg Biffle, No. 10 Kurt Busch, No. 11 Ryan Newman, No. 12 Kasey Kahne, 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