"We feel like there's a bit more business to take care of this weekend before the '09 season is completed," said Busch, currently fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings entering Sunday's 36th and final race of the schedule. "It'll be our last race with Pat holding the reins for our Miller Lite Dodge Team and we're definitely looking to see it all conclude on a positive note.
"I think we do have another win in us," said Busch, who trails third-place Jeff Gordon by 42 points in the standings heading into Homestead. "We're bringing back ‘Patriot,' the car we won with at Texas. It's a great car. Our team has an upbeat feel. We've had a long year. We've had a successful year. There's no better way than put together a 100 percent effort this week and go out with a bang and hopefully a win."
Tryson teamed up with Busch back in June 2007 and the combination clicked immediately. In less than seven weeks after Tryson had joined the team, Busch had scored two wins and was headed to Penske Racing's first entry in the "Chase" since 2005. In the 92 races with Tryson as crew chief, Busch has scored five wins, 18 top-five finishes, 41 top-10s and one Coors Light Pole. Tryson helped lead the "Blue Deuce" crew to two "Chase" appearances in three years. Tryson-led teams have made the annual "playoffs" five of six years.
"Pat has been a great team leader and we've had a lot of success together and a ton of fun along the way," said Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Champion. "While it'll be sad knowing that Homestead will be our final race together, we've pledged to put all emotions aside and focus on scoring one final trip to Victory Lane there this weekend.
"They were still talking last week about the huge celebration we had after the big Texas win with some onlookers saying it was a record for the most liquid sprayed and consumed after a win," said Busch with a chuckle. "I can guarantee you that if we win at Homestead on Sunday; we'll throw an even bigger party. It'll be like a race win celebration and going away party for Pat all wrapped up in one."
Busch also contends that there is "big picture importance" for having a competitive Ford 400 weekend. "We're only 42 points out of third in the point standings and have a pretty good buffer over fifth," Busch said of his deficit to third-place Gordon and 74-point lead over fifth-place Tony Stewart. "We have a realistic shot at climbing up to third and that's what we're focused on doing this weekend.
"I've always thought that it was extremely important to end the season on a high note," said Busch, who will enter his fifth season as driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing in 2010. "Your last race out is the one that's freshest on your mind and you certainly hope it's memorable for all the right reasons. Closing out your season with a competitive weekend at Homestead is just that important.
"If you come out of there with great results, it gives all the team members, the sponsors, the media - everyone out there - a super calling card to remember you by," Busch added. "It works to instill optimism and grow the level of confidence through all those cold and dreary winter days. When you look at that period in between the closing of one season till the opening of the next, that's a long time to think about it."
Busch, Tryson and crew will bring out "Patriot" again this weekend. Formerly known simply as "PRS-702," the team debuted this Miller Lite Dodge Charger two weeks ago in the Dickies 500 at Texas. When Busch scored the big victory in the first time out for the car, he continued the Penske Racing tradition in naming his winning mount. With the Fort Hood tragedy occurring earlier that week, Busch wanted to pay tribute to the military in his name selection. The fact that his car was carrying a special Operation Homefront color scheme and the organization's representatives and soldiers helped Busch celebrate the win "sealed the deal" in naming the car "Patriot."
Friday's practice from 11:30 a.m. till 1:00 p.m. kicks off this weekend's action at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Qualifying to establish the starting grid for Sunday's battle is set for Friday at 3:10 p.m. Saturday's first practice is scheduled from 1:30 p.m. till 2:15 p.m. and the final "happy hour" practice session is scheduled from 2:50 p.m. till 3:50 p.m. Sunday's Ford 400 (400 miles, 267 laps) has a scheduled 3:45 p.m. EST starting time here on this 1.5-mile speed plant located at the north end of the Florida Keys. ABC-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.