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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)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks with the media following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew members work on the Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, in the garage area during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch. August 20 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Saturday, October 18, 2014 for Sunday`s Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Johnson, who is in the Chase, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Sunday is the final round of the Contender 12 phase of the race. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates with Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 18, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Chad Knaus, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Michael Waltrip, driver of the #66 MyAFibStory.com Toyota, poses for a photo during a press conference before practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 17, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing garage at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29 2014. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Team co-owner Michael Waltrip, photographed during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour on January 30, 2014. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 11, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, looks on from the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, poses with the Coors Lite Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS finished in fourth place and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar finished in sixth place Sunday, October 5, 2014 in the Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. The Contender 12 phase of the Chase continues next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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