While this is a weekend of championships at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it’s also a weekend of goodbye’s:
* Marcos Ambrose is competing in his last Sprint Cup race (barring any future one-off races, particularly on road courses like Sonoma and Watkins Glen).
Ambrose is returning with his family to his native Australia to compete on the V8 Supercars Series, for a team co-owned by legendary owner Roger Penske.
Before he came to NASCAR, Ambrose was a two-time V8 Supercars champion.
* Sunday will be Steve Letarte’s last race as crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Letarte will join NBC as an analyst on NASCAR telecasts next year.
* And Carl Edwards and crew chief Jimmy Fennig will be spending their final race together, with both men going in different directions after Homestead.
Edwards is moving next season to Joe Gibbs Racing, following former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth, who moved to JGR in 2013.
Fennig, meanwhile, is retiring after 30 years as a crew chief, first in the American Speed Association (won a championship with Mark Martin in 1986) and then NASCAR.
Edwards, who was eliminated from the Chase last week at Phoenix – ending his hope of earning a Sprint Cup championship before leaving Roush Fenway Racing – on Sunday will compete in his 373rd and final race for the only Sprint Cup organization he’s known.
Edwards came close once before to winning a championship for RFR, tying for the title in 2011, but ended up second in the final standings when NASCAR was forced to go to the tie-breaker: most wins, which Tony Stewart had five to Edwards’ one.
Still, Edwards did win the Nationwide Series championship for RFR in 2007, sandwiched around four runner-up finishes in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Edwards has had good success in the Cup ranks at HMS. Since he fell short of being able to give a championship to Roush, a win in Sunday’s race would probably be the next best thing.
Edwards has two Sprint Cup wins at Homestead in 2008 and 2010, and also won a Nationwide Series event there in 2008. In 10 career Cup starts there, Edwards has an average start of 11.7 and an outstanding average finish of 6.6.
“Even though our run at the championship is over, I am really looking forward to Homestead,” Edwards said in his weekly media release. “It has been a great race track for us. I love racing there.
“It’s Ford Championship Week and I want to get a win for Jack Roush and Jimmy Fennig and all of my guys, because they have worked so hard this year. They did the impossible. We made the Chase and we have two wins.
“(Plus) we held on for nine races of the Chase with a shot of winning the championship. I am really proud of every one of them. I want to give the performance to finish the season the way that everyone deserves. That’s what I am going to do.
“Jimmy and I have talked and he is as fired up as ever and hopefully we can go and do a good job.”
Fennig, who won the first Chase for the Sprint Cup (known as the Chase for the Nextel Cup then) in 2004 with Kurt Busch, is essentially semi-retiring, but is expected to remain with RFR as a consultant.
In words that were said 10 years ago but are still true today, Jack Roush said of Fennig after he and Busch won the 2004 title:
“Jimmy Fennig is an unsung hero at Roush Racing. He doesn’t do things that create a personal image away from the driver or away from the sponsor or away from the team.
“He’s the trooper that’s back there doing everything that he can everyday.”
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