Report: Morgan Shepherd, 72, set for Daytona 500 attempt

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He made history last July when he ran the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Loudon, and now, Morgan Shepherd wants to break his own record as the oldest driver to start a Cup race.

Shepherd turned 72 years old in October, and would beat his old mark of 71 if he makes the field for this year’s Daytona 500. Per the Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass and other media reports, Shepherd will attempt to qualify for the ‘500 in the No. 93 Toyota with backing from the Support Military Foundation.

The car is from BK Racing, but not owned by BK. Interestingly, Shepherd’s Loudon start came for in the No. 52 BK Motorsports Ford – a different team and separate organization, run by Brad Keselowski’s older brother Brian Keselowski.

The BK Racing team will field rookies Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex in its two Toyotas for the full season. By comparison, those two combined are only 41 years old (Bowman 20, Truex 21), some 31 years younger than Shepherd.

Shepherd has not attempted to qualify for the 500 since 2006, when he missed the show. He also failed to qualify in 1999 and 2005 since he last made the field in 1997, driving the No. 1 Delco Remy America Pontiac for Richard Jackson. He finished second to the late Davey Allison in the 1992 ‘500, driving for the Wood Brothers.

In 2007, James Hylton, who was also 72 at the time, attempted but failed to qualify for the Daytona 500.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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