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.
We'll refrain from making a remark about how much a change of scenery helped you, Matt, because that's blatantly obvious, isn't it?
For all of the success that you had this season, it feels a bit overshadowed by what happened at Phoenix. It was the worst time -- OK, so maybe Homestead could have been worse -- to have your poorest race of the season. Going toe-to-toe with Jimmie Johnson was suddenly negated with a ill-handling car and an inability to work through traffic.
But it shouldn't. You won seven races. That's two more than you've ever won in a Sprint Cup season, though your tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing certainly didn't get off to an auspicious start with the engine gremlin attack at Daytona. Imagine what would have happened if that would have been your Phoenix downfall.
Yeah, one of those race wins may had been a tad tainted, but it may have been in spite of the overweight rod and not because of it. That explains how the penalty was sharply reduced. You also won the first race of the Chase, and that set the stage for the showdown with the champion.
After two years outside of the top 10 in 2008 and 2009, you've entrenched yourself (again) as a top 10 driver. That's not going to change any time soon.
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Previous Reviews: No. 3 Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Kyle Busch, No. 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 6 Jeff Gordon, 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