Welcome to From the Marbles' 2014 season previews. Here's how we think the Chase will shake out in this first year of 16 drivers and eliminations. Will we be right? Unlikely, but it's fun to think about our soothsaying possibilities until the green flag waves for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23.
Driver: Jeff Gordon
2013 Finish: 6th
2013 Highlight: Hello, Martinsville. Gordon won at the track he used to dominate and got his lone win of the season. He led 78 laps, including the final 21 after he passed Matt Kenseth. We could also put making the Chase in here, as Gordon's Chase chances weren't exactly looking great through the first half of the season. Sure, he was 14th in points, but he had five DNFs in the first 18 races.
2013 Lowlight: His chances at the Chase disappeared at Texas when he lost a tire and hit the wall, but let's be real for a moment; Jeff Gordon wasn't winning the Chase. Any storyline entering the Chase was propagated by a contingent that was desperate to add a third driver to the battle between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. And since Gordon happened to be third entering the final three races of the season and was coming off a win, he was the guy.
We'll also throw in the nasty crash Gordon was in at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600.
Why is Gordon here? He's still one of the better drivers in the sport, and while title No. 5 may be somewhat of a surprise at this point in his career, it'd be more of one if he missed the Chase. Gordon has had two winless years in the past six seasons, but he finished in the top 10 both times.
How could Gordon not be here? The one year Gordon missed the Chase (2005), he had four wins. And as we just mentioned, he's been good when he's been winless, so it'd take a collapse or some extraordinary events for Gordon to miss the Chase. Like an extrapolation of DNFs, or a cluster of terrible late-race restarts or something.
Best Winter Olympic event: Gordon's breakdancing skills would translate well to Slopestyle.
Worst Winter Olympic event: Bobsled. Given how #Gordonrestarts have taken on a life of their own on social media when Gordon loses positions after a caution flag, do you trust Gordon getting his bobsled up to speed?
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