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. Almirola already?
Aric, you've shown steady improvement throughout your six Cup seasons, and your second full season was an appropriate follow up on your debut last year.
We're really not sure what the expectations are. Setting them at winning races and making the Chase may be a tad too high given your team and your experience in the Cup Series, but at the same time, "not finishing 30th" is way too low too. If we split the difference, we'd say that 2013 was a fruitful season.
You had six top 10s, the most you've ever had, and for a while there you were in the Chase discussion. Heck, you were in the top 10 for two weeks after Talladega and Darlington in the spring. But the Daytona crash in July knocked you to 19th and that was that.
After 15 lead lap finishes last year, you finished on the lead lap 24 times in 2013. Another good improvement. Though the speed that you all had at the beginning of the year disappeared. Not only did that crash create a hole to dig out of, you really didn't even have a stepladder to try to get out of it. The only top 10s after it were at Loudon and Kansas.
You know what could make you endearing in our eyes? A full embrace of your NASCAR live chat nickname "Almirola by Morning." Consider that the missing link and all of your problems will go away if you put that above the window of your car. We're that serious about our chat names around here, and we pride ourselves on our originality. It's better than "Cuban Missile," and we're not in the Cold War no more.
Plus, "Almirola by Morning" fits perfectly with your boss's hat.
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Previous Reviews: 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