Several “lasts” at NASCAR finale at Homestead this weekend

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There are several drivers, teams and/or situations set to come to an end this weekend for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finale.

A quick rundown:

Ambrose’s last start in Cup

With the news he’s going back to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske and Dick Johnson Racing, this Sunday will mark Marcos Ambrose’s last start in the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, and last scheduled start in the series overall. Additionally, it’s the last race for sponsors DeWalt and Stanley with RPM before they head to Joe Gibbs Racing. Ambrose finished an overlooked 10th at Phoenix last week and looks to end on a high note. Of course, seeing as Penske has occasionally run a third car part-time in the past, could we see Ambrose in a third Penske car at Sonoma or Watkins Glen in the future? It’s not expected, but it wouldn’t surprise too much if it happened.

Edwards ends his Roush Fenway run

Eliminated from title contention at Phoenix, Carl Edwards now has his swan song with Roush Fenway Racing this Sunday after 11 seasons and 373 races, the team with which he has spent his entire NASCAR career. He’s won 23 races, including two at Homestead (2008 and 2010), and famously came second to Tony Stewart in a tiebreaker for the 2011 title. He also won the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series title driving for Roush. He heads to JGR next season.

3M with Biffle, Nationwide with Stenhouse Jr.

More from the Roush Fenway departing department; 3M leaves Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Ford and Nationwide Insurance leaves Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 Ford, both going to Hendrick Motorsports. 3M will be with Jeff Gordon and Nationwide with Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season.

Bayne’s last start with Wood Brothers, and as a part-timer

In five seasons since 2010, Trevor Bayne has only made 57 starts at the Cup level – this Sunday will be his 58th and last both as a part-timer and as a member of the Wood Brothers. Bayne was announced earlier this year as moving into Roush Fenway Racing full-time, and bringing back the famed No. 6. While Bayne famously won the 2011 Daytona 500, he has only two other top-10s in his Cup career.

The Stewart-Haas pit crew rendezvous

At Stewart-Haas Racing Kevin Harvick adopted Tony Stewart’s crew for the Chase, but the crew chiefs didn’t swap. Meanwhile Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick swapped crew chiefs and road crews for the final three races. It’s been dizzying to keep track of but the arrangements as they are have their last scheduled races this weekend, as they are now. At the end of a turbulent year for the organization, SHR can still emerge as champions – and Harvick is the presumptive favorite.

The first-timers lose their stripes

For Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and the remainder of the 2014 Sprint Cup rookie class (Michael Annett, Alex Bowman, Cole Whitt, Justin Allgaier), this is the last race with the yellow rookie stripes on the back. Race wisely as it’s the last time you can get away with saying “Hey, I’m a rookie.” While Larson and Dillon have impressed throughout, the others have had momentary flashes of brilliance.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.