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: Marcos Ambrose
2013 Finish: 22nd
2013 Highlight: Egads. Ambrose's best finish was at Michigan in August, but his best performance was at Watkins Glen the week before. However, he finished 31st in that race after crashing out in the esses.
2013 Lowlight: Therefore, it qualifies as Ambrose's lowlight too. After Watkins Glen, Ambrose fell to 23rd in the Sprint Cup Series standings. A win wouldn't have gotten him into the Chase, but it would have officially extended a streak of dominance at the New York track to three straight years.
Why is Ambrose here? We think he's going to get back to victory lane, either at Sonoma or the Glen in 2014. We're bound to have a driver make the Chase this season based solely off a win instead of season-long performance. Ambrose is our pick to be that driver.
How could Ambrose not be here? Admittedly, it's a make-or-break season for the Aussie, who finished outside the top 20 for the first time since 2010 when he was with JTG-Daugherty Racing. And simply put, Ambrose won't be here without a win. While improvement upon last year's performance won't be surprising at all, Ambrose isn't going to be a driver who's high enough in the points standings to make the Chase without a win.
Best Winter Olympic event: Because of the road course prowess, we're taking Ambrose to win a bobsled medal. We also wouldn't count him out being crazy enough to try skeleton.
Worst Winter Olympic event: Only one Australian has ever won an alpine skiing medal. We're not sure Ambrose would be the second.
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