One last ride together Sunday at Homestead: Steve Letarte and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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The day that Dale Earnhardt Jr. had dreaded is here:

Steve Letarte’s final race as Junior’s crew chief.

When the checkered flag falls on Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Earnhardt-Letarte partnership will end.

While Earnhardt will continue racing in the Sprint Cup Series, Letarte will be moving on to a new role as an analyst on NASCAR on NBC telecasts.

Letarte will be ending a nearly two-decade run with Hendrick Motorsports, which began while he was still a teenager. Now 35, the Cornish, Maine native will go from atop the pit box to in front of the bright lights and camera.

While excited about his future, Letarte has a lot of priceless memories, including his relationship with Earnhardt and before that with Jeff Gordon.

“There’s a lot going through my mind,” Letarte said earlier this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I don’t think I can hardly believe it yet. It’s unique.”

According to MRN.com, Letarte already cleaned out most of his office back at the Hendrick Motorsports compound in Concord, North Carolina.

“I think it’s the only fair thing to do so when the season’s over it’s not personal, it’s business,” Letarte said. “Greg Ives (Earnhardt’s new crew chief) needs to get into that office and get going, and he’s excited to do that so I’m sure it’s going to be an emotional week, to say the least.”

Although Earnhardt was eliminated from championship contention prior to the Eliminator Round, Letarte still wants to have one more go to finish the season – and his career as a crew chief – with a final win Sunday.

“We’re going to try, and I don’t know how successful we’re going to be at this, to make it business as usual,” Letarte said. “It’s a track that Dale runs well at and we run well at, especially at the top, so we’re going down there and try to make the last race together a win. That’s our goal.”

If it wasn’t for Letarte joining forces with him in 2011, it’s likely Earnhardt wouldn’t have had the resurgence that he has had the last few seasons, particularly 2014, with four wins, including Junior’s second career triumph in the Daytona 500.

With one last chance for both him and Earnhardt, allowing Letarte to go out a winner, that’s the main focus Sunday – although there’ll be a lot of memories that will likely come flooding back once the checkered flag drops.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Letarte said of his last race. “I’m torn, right now. It’s my final race as a crew chief and that’s emotional, it’s disappointing.

“At the same time, the buzz about starting to get creative for next year, we’re starting to get to that point, of what’s next.”

Now that the day he’s waited for nearly a year (he announced back in January that he was leaving at the end of this season), is Letarte having any second thoughts?

“I’m ready, I’m not disappointed in my decision,” he said. “It just becomes a little harder when it comes to the finish and that’s what this weekend’s gonna be.”

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.