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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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet SS, finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in sixth place Sunday, March 29, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Ortho Ford, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (left) congratulates his son Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. This will mark Chase Elliott`s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, answers questions from media during a press conference before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. Vickers was forced to withdraw from competition due to blood clots. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS finishes in eighth place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS finishes in third place and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS finishes in second place Sunday, March 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, climbs into his car prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS qualifies for 2nd position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS celebrates with his team after winning the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, March 20, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch is 33rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Joining him on the front row will be Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row / Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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