|SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums|
The finish came at the end of a very difficult week for Shepherd and his Faith Motorsports team. Last Sunday at Phoenix, while running in the Top 20 in the closing stages, he was involved in a grinding multi-car accident that destroyed the car he’d planned to bring to Homestead.
Uninjured in the crash, Shepherd, a NASCAR veteran with more than 41 years of experience, then received help from a surprising source. Tony Stewart, days before he would claim his third Sprint Cup Championship, paid for Shepherd’s tires, allowing the #89 to make a run in the finale. In qualifying, Shepherd made the show based on his rank in Owner Points, timing in 39th at a speed of 158.753. Among the six drivers to miss the race were 2011 LASTCAR Nationwide Driver’s Champion Jeff Green, who thus missed out on an opportunity to tie Jeff Fuller’s record-setting mark of 11 finishes in the 2004 season.
At the start of Sunday’s race, Shepherd’s luck proved no better. Early in the event, Shepherd made an unscheduled pit stop where the crew looked under his hood. Citing engine failure, the #89 team exited the race.
Shepherd and the other occupants of the Bottom Five became the focus of Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who needed just a 37th-place finish to claim his first NASCAR Nationwide Series championship over Elliott Sadler. With five cars joining Shepherd in the garage by Lap 10, and all of them listed as “out” by Lap 30, Stenhouse clinched the title. He would go on to finish second in the race to Brad Keselowski.
*Shepherd and the #89 had not finished last in a Nationwide Series race since 2008, when his Victory In Jesus Racing Dodge fell out with ignition failure without completing a single lap of the Meijer 300 at Kentucky. Brett Rowe, who drove a “start-and-park” #55 entry for Shepherd earlier this season, picked up three last-place finishes in 2011, most recently at Road America.
*Shepherd had never before finished last in a Nationwide race at Homestead.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
43) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 1 lap / engine
42) #39-Fain Skinner / 2 laps / crash
41) #42-Scott Speed / 3 laps / overheating
40) #71-Matt Carter / 4 laps / vibration
39) #47-Josh Wise / 4 laps / electrical
LASTCAR N’WIDE SERIES DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP - FINAL STANDINGS
1st) Jeff Green (10)
2nd) Brett Rowe (3)
3rd) Kelly Bires, Johnny Chapman, Dennis Setzer (2)
4th) T.J. Bell, Matt Carter, Kevin Conway, Marc Davis, Matt Frahm, Mike Harmon, James Hylton, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Brian Keselowski, Blake Koch, Justin Marks, Morgan Shepherd, Scott Speed, Scott Wimmer, J.J. Yeley (1)
LASTCAR N’WIDE SERIES OWNER’S CHAMPIONSHIP - FINAL STANDINGS
1st) #44-TriStar Motorsports (10)
2nd) #47-Key Motorsports, #55-Faith Motorsports (3)
3rd) #25-Ed Rensi, #27-Baker Curb Racing, #49-Jay Robinson Racing (2)
4th) #0-JD Motorsports, #13-Jennifer Jo Cobb, #39-Go Green Racing, #41-Rick Ware Racing, #50-Mark Beaver, #68-Fleur-De-Lis Motorsports, #74-Mike Harmon, #75-Rick Ware Racing, #82-MacDonald Motorsports, #87-NEMCO Motorsports, #89-Faith Motorsports, #03-R3 Motorsports (1)
LASTCAR N’WIDE SERIES MANUFACTURER’S CHAMPIONSHIP - FINAL STANDINGS
1st) Chevrolet (26)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Dodge (1)