Ranking the 5 Most Disappointing Drivers in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Joseph SheltonContributor IIIMay 4, 2013

Ranking the 5 Most Disappointing Drivers in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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    We're a quarter of the way through the 2013 Sprint Cup season, and we've already caught glimpses of who will be a serious contender this season and who will go bust.

    There's still a long way to go before the champion is crowned at Homestead, but these five drivers need to pick it up if they want to have a chance.

    Here is the list of the most disappointing drivers of the 2013 Sprint Cup season.

5. Martin Truex Jr.

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    Things just have not come together for Martin Truex Jr. 

    Since his rookie year, he's made the Chase just twice (2007, 2012). Only one of those seasons saw him to Victory Lane, when he won at Dover in June 2007.

    When he joined Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010, many figured it would be a matter of time before he pulled into the Victory Lane for the second time.

    We're still waiting.

    Throughout the 2012 season, we thought we would finally see Truex's winless streak broken. But unfortunately, he couldn't seal the deal. 

    Load it up and try again for the 2013 season.

    Yet, so far, it seems like the 2013 season is going to be a long one for Truex. After nine races a year ago, Truex sat seventh in points with three top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes. This year after nine races, he sits 15th with two top-five finishes and three top-10 finishes.

    His run at Texas this year showed us a glimpse of what he is capable of, After barely glimpsing the front in the races prior to the NRA 500, Truex paced the field for 142 laps before being bested by Kyle Busch at the checkered flag.

    Truex is a talented driver, but he has to up his ante this year. He's got the same equipment as teammate Clint Bowyer, who finished second in points a year ago. There is no excuse as to why he's slumping along this year.

4. Jeff Gordon

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    There seems to be a little rhyme to the reason why Jeff Gordon is not performing up to par this season.

    He's older, wiser, the father to two beautiful children...

    Simply put, Gordon seems to have slowed down over the past several years. He's more prone to accidents and driver slips.

    At this point in 2012, he was suffering through a rough patch before he turned it around and clinched a wild-card spot at Richmond in September. At the time, everyone hoped that it was just a singular rough patch that every driver gets from time to time.

    2013 has proven otherwise. 

    With only one top-five and two top-10 runs this season, 14th in points is not good enough for the No. 24. He'll have to dig deep and produce the needed results if he wants to be where he needs to be after 26 races.

3. Ryan Newman

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    Ryan Newman is not a back-of-the-pack driver. He's a former Rookie of the Year, a Daytona 500 winner and one of the most prolific pole winners of our time.

    So why is he currently 16th in points?

    With a high point of fifth in the Daytona 500 this year, Newman has not had much to smile about. At this point last year, he had one win already, taking the checkered at Martinsville. He didn't make the Chase, but he was in contention for a wild-card spot until the very end.

    The Stewart-Haas Chevrolets are tough, and Newman is tougher. So he is going to have to muscle up and start posting results fast before making the Chase becomes nothing more than a pipe dream.

2. Marcos Ambrose

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    What is Marcos Ambrose doing on here? He hasn't exactly set the racing world on fire, so to be considered "disappointing" seems quite odd.

    But when we look at the recent turnaround that Richard Petty Motorsports has experienced, you can't help but wonder where Ambrose is.

    Sure, he already has a top-10 this season, which is more than could be said for his 2012 season after nine races. The always unpredictable Martinsville Speedway was the site of Ambrose's eighth-place finish this year. But in comparison to teammate Aric Almirola's three top-10 finishes and eight top-20 finishes, Ambrose is clearly falling short. 

    While Almirola sits in the 11th spot, Ambrose sits in 23rd. The RPM Fords are capable of running up front, so if the No. 9 team puts Ambrose in position to win a few races, he might qualify for the Chase as a wild card. Therefore, the team needs to work on its game plan for the regular season before time runs out.

1. Tony Stewart

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    Oh, Smoke, say it isn't so...

    Clearly, the biggest and most unexpected disappointment this season has been the No. 14 Stewart-Haas camp and its lack of results.

    Following a hard crash/DNF right out of the gate at Daytona, Tony Stewart has been on a constant uphill climb.

    At this point a year ago, he had already recorded two wins and was eighth in points, ready to defend his title run from the year before. However, in 2013, he sits an uncharacteristic 22nd in points with only an eighth-place finish at Phoenix for solace.

    He needs a few wins if he wants any hope of contending for a wild-card spot this season. Otherwise, we could be looking at Stewart's worst season to date.