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Miami represents final race for many Cup drivers with current teams

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In case you haven’t heard, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making his final Cup start this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He will retire from Cup competition after his last race driving Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 Chevrolet. He will be replaced by Alex Bowman next season.

But the 14-time most popular driver is one of many drivers making their last start with their current team.

The driver landscape in Cup will shift dramatically following Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Here’s a breakdown of the rest of the drivers making final starts with their current teams.

Matt Kenseth – Making final start in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota in likely his last Cup race. Will be replaced in 2018 by Erik Jones. Kenseth has driven the No. 20 since 2013.

Erik Jones – Last start in Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 Toyota after one season in the car, which the team won’t run in 2018 due to a lack of sponsorship. (Announcement made July 11)

Danica Patrick – Last start in Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 Ford, which she has driven since 2013. Losing ride due to lack of sponsorship. Will be replaced by Aric Almirola in 2018. (Announcement made Sept. 12)

Aric Almirola – Last start in Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford, which he has driven since 2012. He will be replaced by Darrell Wallace Jr. in 2018 as he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing. (Announcement made Nov. 8)

Kasey Kahne – Last start in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet, which he has driven since 2012. Losing ride due to lack of sponsorship. He will be replaced by Xfinity Series driver William Byron in 2018 as the No. 5 will become the No. 24. Kahne will drive the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing. (Announcement made Sept. 19)

Michael McDowell – Last start in Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 Chevrolet, which he began driving in 2014 as an part-time ride. It became a full-time effort this season.

Ryan Blaney – Last start in Wood Brothers Racing’s No. 21 Ford, which he began driving part-time in 2015. He became a full-time driver in 2016. He will join Team Penske in 2018 driving the No. 12 Ford. Blaney will be replaced by Paul Menard(Announcement made July 26)

Paul Menard – Last start in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 27 Chevrolet, which he has driven since 2011. RCR has not announced plans for the No. 27 next season. Menard will be the 44th driver to compete for Wood Brothers Racing as he takes over the No. 21 Ford. (Announcement made July 26)

Landon Cassill – Last start in Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 Ford, which he began driving this season. He joined Front Row Motorsports in 2016 driving the No. 38 Ford. FRM has not announced a new driver for the No. 34. Cassill has not announced his plans for 2018. (Announcement made on Oct. 9)

MORE: The future of Kurt Busch is still unknown. Busch has driven Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 41 Ford since 2014. The team announced in August it wasn’t picking up the option on his contract. Busch said after winning the pole at Texas two weeks ago that he and the team were still in negotiations.

“That’s our goal, is to have Kurt back in that car for next year,” co-owner Tony Stewart said at the time.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘Last Ride’ diecast is Lionel Racing’s bestselling ever

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has set a new benchmark for Lionel Racing’s most purchased diecast in its 25-year history.

Lionel Racing, NASCAR’s official diecast producer, has announced that the diecast of Earnhardt’s “Last Ride” No. 88 Chevrolet in the Cup season finale last month is now its bestselling diecast in company history.

The “Last Ride” car is based on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet that Earnhardt drove in his rookie Cup season in 2000.

The previous bestseller was another Earnhardt diecast, for his 2014 Daytona 500 win.

Lionel Racing says that QVC’s “For Race Fans Only” show that featured Earnhardt and unveiled the car helped contribute to sales. But even without QVC, sales of the “Last Ride” diecast outpaced the 2014 Daytona 500 diecast by more than 10,000 units.

“The demand for this car has been simply astounding,” Lionel Racing President Howard Hitchcock said on the company’s website. “The fan response to this diecast is a true measure of how much Earnhardt has meant to both casual NASCAR fans and serious diecast collectors.”

Lionel Racing has also revealed the top-10 selling diecasts for the year, which you can find below. Earnhardt has six cars on the list. Chase Elliott has two and Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney each have one.

Casey Mears likely to split 2018 between NASCAR, Global Rallycross and Stadium Super Trucks

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Casey Mears still plans to compete part-time in NASCAR in 2018, but he’s also looking to expand his racing horizons.

The veteran NASCAR driver told The Checkered Flag recently that he also expects to race in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, as well as Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.

“Right now I’m talking to a few NASCAR programs to do maybe limited stuff,” Mears told The Checkered Flag. “I don’t have anything that would be a full-time ride in a NASCAR series.

“I’ve been speaking with Robby Gordon in the Stadium Super Truck program. I think that’s a really cool up-and-coming-series and I’d definitely like to be involved with the GRC. It looks like a lot of fun.

“I think there’s enough difference between all those that it could leave room for doing a bit of both so we’ll see how it works out.”

Mears did not race in the Cup Series in 2017, having lost his ride at the end of 2016 to Ty Dillon in the No. 13 Geico Chevy. He has amassed 488 starts and one win (2007 Coca-Cola 600) in his Cup career, along with 13 top fives and 51 top 10s.

However, he did compete on a part-time basis in 2017 in the Xfinity Series, making 14 starts, with season-best finishes of ninth place at both Richmond and Road America. He also has 107 Xfinity starts with one win, 16 top fives and 34 top 10s.

Make donation to Martinsville toy drive to take laps around track

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Have you ever dreamed of making a lap around the oldest track in NASCAR?

Today and tomorrow, Martinsville Speedway is making that dream come true.

With a toy or monetary donation for the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, you can drive your own car around the half-mile track in Martinsville, Virginia.

A $10 donation gets you five laps and $20 gets you 10 laps.

The laps are being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET today and Friday.

Cole Pearn to honor late friend with fundraiser for family next month in Toronto

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A testimonial to Cole Pearn’s best friend, who unexpectedly passed away in early August, as well as a fundraiser for his family will be held Friday, Jan. 5, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Pearn’s lifelong friend, Jacob Damen, died unexpectedly after contracting a fast-moving bacterial infection on August 3.

Pearn, crew chief for the 2017 NASCAR Cup championship for Furniture Row Racing, will oversee the gala event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. ET.

The evening will also include an appearance by 2017 NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., silent and live auctions, the opportunity to meet both Pearn and Truex and other events.

All net proceeds from the evening will be given to the Damen Family Fund.

“We miss our buddy Jacob dearly,” Pearn said in a media release. “We all have family and friends that fill a space in our hearts that is irreplaceable.

“Jacob filled the hearts of his wife Carolyn, his sons Lucas and Nolan, his parents Jerry and Kim Damen, twin brother Tyler, sister Julia and countless friends.

“We are going to celebrate his life at the perfect spot, the Hockey Hall of Fame, to support his beautiful wife Carolyn and the two boys, Lucas and Nolan. I can’t wait to get home to celebrate with everyone.”

Click here for more details and to purchase tickets to the ‘Jacob Damen Friend and Fan Remembered’ event.