Morgan Shepherd is 71 years old. He is going to attempt to qualify for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend.
And if you’re asking whether he’d be the first septuagenarian to start a Cup race, the answer is yes, he would.
He’s entered in the No. 52 Support Military/Victory Weekend Toyota for Bob Keselowski, who like Shepherd, is old. Except not as old. The father of current Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski is a relatively youthful 61 by comparison.
Shepherd last started a Cup race in 2006, also at New Hampshire, and finished 42nd of 43 cars. He first started a race in 1970, at Hickory, N.C., when Richard Nixon was in the White House.
The good news for Shepherd is that the last driver of the No. 52 – Paulie Harraka – set the bar so unbelievably low at Sonoma that there’s nowhere to go but up for the native of Ferguson, N.C. Harraka crashed into another car as the cars were leaving the pits before their pace laps to make for one of the most inglorious Sprint Cup level debuts of all-time.
To be fair, Shepherd has still raced semi-competitively in the Nationwide Series the last several years, and has four career wins.
Assuming he starts (and probably likely parks it shortly thereafter), he’d set a record as the oldest Cup starter by some six years. Sports-car racer Jim Fitzgerald holds the record at 65 years, 6 months and 22 days when he finished 17th in a Rick Hendrick-owned car at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. James Hylton, 78 now, tried to qualify for the 2007 Daytona 500 at 72 but failed to qualify.
Score this one in the “old guys rule” category.