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. McMurray's moment.
Jamie, it's fair to say your season was like Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s on steroids.
Yes, these are supposed to be confidential, but Ricky finished between 11th-19th 21 times out of 36 races in 2013. You finished in the same zone 18 times.
The difference was in the areas above that. While Stenhouse had just one top five and three top tens, you had four top fives and nine top 10s. And just like Stenhouse, those (relative) lack of top 10s was an outlier in your standings zip code. Martin Truex Jr., the man who finished right behind you, had 15 top 10s. Everyone else above you had at least 13.
And there's also one distinct difference too. That Talladega victory. You might have made that power move to the outside just a tad too early. But the ghosts of restrictor plates past, the Chase and the rules package meant that no one could challenge you. Well OK, no one could challenge you until maybe the last lap. We'll never know after Austin Dillon's car went airborne (and thankfully landed safely).
We'll go ahead and call this a successful season. You made a six-spot leap in the standings and made it back to victory lane for the first time in three years, all with the same team. That's not a type of turnaround that happens too often. And we think that time in 2011 and 2012 will help in your relationship with your new co-worker this next season.
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Previous Reviews: 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