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.
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.