Cash woes may doom Shepherd's team

Updated: September 2, 2009, 2:25 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A mechanical failure in the back of Morgan Shepherd's familiar No. 89 Nationwide Series car may have ended the career of the 67-year-old driver.

Shepherd

Shepherd

The problem forced Shepherd to miss his third consecutive Nationwide race Sunday in Montreal and then forced him to lay off almost his entire team Monday due to a lack of funding.

"We will go to Atlanta and I will just have to do it pretty much by myself," Shepherd said, in reference to the site of Saturday's Nationwide race. "We just can't pay people when we don't have anything coming in."

The layoffs included most at Shepherd's shop and track crew personnel, including crew chief Morris Van Vleet. Only one shop mechanic and a track crew member remain.

If sponsorship doesn't come soon or if he misses Saturday's race, Shepherd said he will have to make even tougher decisions.

"There is no quit in us, but we can only go so far without money," he said. "We'll see after Atlanta what we are able to do."

Shepherd began driving in the Sprint Cup series in 1970. He collected the first of his four Cup wins in 1981, last qualifying for a race in that series in 2006. He has 15 Nationwide victories and has qualified for 17 of 25 events this season.

Most recognize his car now for its "Racing for Jesus" logo. Shepherd has received help from many Cup drivers to stay on the track, including Kevin Harvick and two-time champion Tony Stewart, who is footing the bills for Shepherd's tires this season.

Unless someone steps forward with additional funding, Shepherd's days in NASCAR might be numbered.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter