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Many roads will end at Homestead

The end of the 2009 season marks the end of a number of NASCAR relationships
The winds of change will be blowing at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week.

The season-ending Ford 400 at the 1.5-mile track marks the end of the road for more than a handful of relationships in the Cup garage. Here's a look of some of the important “lasts” that will take place Sunday.

1.
Pat Tryson's last race with Kurt Busch. Tryson is leaving Penske Racing for Michael Waltrip Racing to serve as crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. Knowing the die was cast before the Chase started, Busch and Tryson have performed remarkably well in the past nine races. They won Nov. 8 at Texas and will bring that same chassis to Homestead.

“We're bringing back 'Patriot', the car we won with at Texas,” Busch said. “It's a great car. Our team has an upbeat feel. We've had a long year. We've had a successful year. There's no better way than put together a 100 per cent effort this next week and go out with a bang — and, hopefully, a win.”

2.
Jamie McMurray's last ride for Roush Fenway Racing. Owner Jack Roush must jettison one of his five teams to comply with the NASCAR-mandated reduction from five to four. McMurray's stock rose when he won Nov. 1 at Talladega, his first victory in more than two years. McMurray is expected to replace Truex, who will drive the #01 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet for the last time at Homestead before moving to MWR. An announcement of McMurray's signing with EGR should come this week.

3.
Michael Waltrip's last race as a full-time driver. Waltrip's final full season in Cup racing deserves more fanfare than it has received to this point. Waltrip began his Cup career 758 races ago (on May 26, 1985), 24 days after Kyle Busch was born. In 2010, Waltrip will run a few selected races, concentrating on the restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega) he particularly likes.

“I figured out that only Mark Martin can drive forever — and I can't,” Waltrip said.

4.
A wealth of “lasts” at Richard Petty Motorsports. Homestead will be Reed Sorenson's last race for RPM. It will be AJ Allmendinger's last race in the #44; he'll take Sorenson's place in the vaunted #43 next year. It will be RPM's last race in Dodge equipment. It will be the swan song of the RPM engine shop, as the organisation transitions to Ford and Roush-Yates engines next season. And who knows? If the RPM/Yates Racing merger — announced Sept. 10 — actually happens, it may be the last event for Yates Racing.

5.
The last chance for Mark Martin. Can the 50-year-old driver overcome Jimmie Johnson's 108-point lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup? Optimistic Martin fans will point to the nine times Martin has beaten Johnson by more than 108 points in head-to-head competition, including once at Homestead (2005, when Martin finished second and Johnson 40th). Pessimists will point to the other 257 races where that hasn't happened.

“Heck, I'm not mathematically eliminated yet,” Martin said after finishing fourth to Johnson's first in Sunday's Cup race at Phoenix. “We'll go to Homestead, and we've got to race for second yet. We've got a race on our hands with Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch. We're still racing like there's no tomorrow.”

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



Related Pictures

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Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, and crew chief Pat Tryson will be together for the final time this weekend, one of a handful of “lasts” that will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, is involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field into turn one during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finished in ninth place, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael S. Duskin is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser PrecisionChevrolet SS, qualifies for tenth position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Truex, Jr. is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, sits in his car prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Johnson’s car features Army 1st Lt. Robert L. Henderson II as part of the 600 Miles of Rememberance.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, stands on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place, Saturday night, May 16, 2015, in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Red Nose Day Toyota, climbs into his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, races to victory Saturday night, May 9, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Racing with him is Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burnout Saturday night, May 9, 2015 winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Saturday night, May 9, 2015 winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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