While it's been a great season thus far for guys like Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick, a number of other Sprint Cup drivers have started off far worse than expected.
Granted, we've gone through just 11 races of the 36-race season—just a hair under one-third of the way through—but for all the good surprises we've seen, there is an equal number of disappointments.
It's the latter that we focus on in this exercise of sorts. How are drivers who you'd expect to be ranked and performing at a much higher level at this point essentially wallowing?
That's what we try to explain as we look at the five drivers who have been the most disappointing of all.
Sure, you could make a case for a guy like Jimmie Johnson having a disappointing season. After all, the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champion has yet to reach Victory Lane in 2014.
However, he's still in the top 10 in the overall standings and has had a consistent season for the most part to date. There's nothing disappointing about that. And remember, this is Jimmie Johnson. The wins will come. It's hard to put the word "disappointment" in the same sentence whenever you're talking about JJ.
As you go through the five picks, you may wonder why Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch's names are not on this list, given that they're 27th and 28th in the Sprint Cup standings.
You may find it hard to believe, but Patrick has indeed shown progress—albeit incrementally. A career-best seventh-place finish last Saturday at Kansas, climbing from 29th to 27th in the standings, could very well be the kind of showing that begins to start turning things around for her.
As a result, we're giving her the benefit of the doubt that she will continue to improve—which is more than we can say for some who are on this list.
Then there's the elder Busch brother. He was kept off the list because for as far down as he is in the standings, he still has one thing that the rest on the list don't, not to mention guys like Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. Namely, a win.
And even if Busch remains below the top 20 in the standings, as long as there are not more than 16 different race winners by the time the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins 16 races from now, Busch will make it.
So without further adieu, let's look at the biggest disappointments thus far in 2014 and why: