Legend ready to bow out in style.

This weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark the end of an era for one of NASCAR's most enduring, popular and successful icons - the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

This weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark the end of an era for one of NASCAR's most enduring, popular and successful icons - the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

Since its series introduction back in May 1971, the legendary Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo SS has contributed to 24 of the 31 NASCAR Cup Series manufacturers' championships won by the Detroit-based manufacturer, making it irrefutably the winningest nameplate for the bow-tie brand in NASCAR competition. Of the 23 NASCAR Cup drivers' crowns claimed by Chevrolet drivers, meanwhile, 16 of the champions powered their way to the top prize with the help of the Monte Carlo, collecting a staggering 396 victories in the process.

The Monte Carlo SS will be replaced full-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup series competition in 2008 by another legend in the Chevrolet line-up, the Impala SS, which with 13 wins from 16 starts has already been proving its worth. However, the tradition of the Monte Carlo SS will continue in the NASCAR Nationwide Series beginning at Daytona next year. While the winning era of the immortal nameplate will end with the drop of the chequered flag at Homestead, the memories amassed by its drivers, teams and fans will never be forgotten.

"The 2007 season has been historic for Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series," remarked Ed Peper, general manager of Chevrolet, acknowledging the fact that all good things must come to an end. "We have enjoyed tremendous success on the track with 26 victories - earning Chevrolet's 31st manufacturers' championship - and an exciting championship battle going down to the wire.

"When the chequered flag falls at Homestead, Chevrolet teams and drivers will say goodbye to the Monte Carlo SS in NASCAR Cup competition. With 396 wins since its introduction in 1971, the Monte Carlo brand has set a benchmark in the series. Drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Snr, Benny Parsons, Cale Yarborough and Terry Labonte piloted their Monte Carlos to wins and championships. These icons in the sport passed the torch to today's champions such as Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.

"We at Chevrolet will watch with pride as the Monte Carlo takes its last NASCAR Cup chequered flag at Homestead, with our sincere thanks to the teams, drivers and most importantly the fans who have supported Monte Carlo throughout the years."

Chevy will be gunning for a record-breaking 27 wins in a single season in Florida this weekend, which would give the GM manufacturer the impressive statistic of having triumphed in exactly 75 per cent of all points-paying races in 2007. Those who have competed with the Monte Carlo over the years were in reflective mood as it gets set to take to the track one final time before retirement.

Four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon has been an exclusive Chevrolet driver throughout his remarkable career. With 81 wins, 233 top five and 316 top ten finishes in 15 years, the Californian leads the distinguished list of drivers who have enjoyed success in the Monte Carlo/Monte Carlo SS.

"My favorite racing memory of the Monte Carlo was its re-introduction into the Cup Series back in 1995," the 36-year-old reminisced. "The car was so dominant that year, and we were able to win our first championship with it as well."

Gordon's current Hendrick Motorsports team-mate and defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, meanwhile, has rocketed to 33 career wins, all behind the wheel of a Chevrolet.

"One of the neater things I have done is go to the Monte Carlo assembly plant and see the whole process," the 2007 NEXTEL Cup champion-elect commented. "That was actually really cool. I got to go up in the testing bay and go through all the cycles, then got the green light and the sticker and drove it off the assembly floor.

"On-track, [the best memory] would be my first win in NEXTEL Cup (California Speedway, Spring 2002) in a Monte Carlo. I have been a GM/Chevy guy my whole career, so I am very proud to say I have only raced bow-ties, and I don't think there are many guys in the garage that can say that."

"Probably my best memory with a Chevy Monte Carlo is what is still my favourite racing memory," added two-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. "[It was] winning the Brickyard 400 for the first time (2005). Everyone knows how badly I wanted to win at Indy, and when I finally did it was the best feeling I ever had.

"You dream about something for so long, you become consumed by it. When I was in USAC trying to make a living as a race car driver, I drove a tow truck for a guy I raced sprint cars against. I would drive down Georgetown toward 16th Street, parallel with the front stretch, and wonder what it would be like 300ft to the left running at 200mph.

"I got a chance to do that and finally, after years of trying to win - be it in Indycars or stock cars - I got to know what it feels like to see that view coming down the front straight, seeing the chequered flag and knowing I was the first driver to cross the stripe. I wanted that moment for so long, and I finally got it. And it was a Chevy Monte Carlo that got me there."

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