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.
This was certainly a way to punch any "lame duck" storylines about a porous season in the gut, wasn't it?
Before the win at Richmond in the ninth race of the season, you were the master of consistency. Well, consistently from ninth-14th, that is. You finished in that area in every race except the Daytona 500, when you were taken out very early in a crash.
Then Richmond happened when a late caution made everything crazy. There you were on the bottom lane and nothing but clear asphalt in front of you. Official win No. 1 in your final season at RCR was in the books.
Charlotte made No. 2 and the consistency level you've shown in your tenure at RCR never wavered. There was no danger of you missing the Chase as you continued to pile up the top 10s and stay in the top five of the standings.
We've mentioned a few times -- notably in the case of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne -- how an early bad Chase finish doomed a driver's chances, and we guess we can say the same thing about you. However, that "bad" finish was a 20th at Loudon. That's just how good Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson were.
You were sixth after that race and despite wins at Kansas and Phoenix -- a sendoff to your current team similar to Kenseth last season -- and finishing in the top 12 in every other Chase race, a championship wasn't in the offing.
After three third place finishes in the last four years, that "something" that's missing isn't much. Are you going to find it at Stewart-Haas Racing? If you do, we won't be surprised in the slightest about a championship.
Previous Reviews: 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
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