On Sunday, Morgan Shepherd is scheduled to strap into the No. 52 of Brian Keselowski Motorsports to race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Shepherd is 71 years old, and thus will become the oldest driver ever to run in NASCAR's elite-level Sprint Cup series.
"Let me say something," Morgan wrote on his Facebook page, "age has nothing to do with it. I am as fit and healthy as any of them younger guys. 71 is just a number. Thank all of you for your support and prayers for something like this."
Only 43 cars will be seeking to qualify for the race, meaning Shepherd is guaranteed entry. His team owner, Brian Keselowski, is the brother of reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. The car will be sponsored by SupportMilitary.org, and will feature a tribute to the 19 firefighters recently killed in Arizona on its hood. The team is hoping to run the entire race, depending on the car's condition and how Shepherd feels behind the wheel.
Shepherd has four wins at the Sprint Cup level. His best season came in 1990, when he finished fifth in the standings. (Dale Earnhardt won that year.) He continues to race in the Nationwide series, including this year.
Here's a bit more perspective: Morgan ran his first race in what is now NASCAR's Sprint Cup level back in June 1970. Greg Biffle is the only driver currently in NASCAR's top 20 who was even alive back then, and Biffle was just six months old. (Also, Sprint Cup was the Grand National series, and the race was run at the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina. Those were different days.)