Morgan Shepherd, seen here in April of 2018, has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images photo)

Morgan Shepherd Diagnosed With Parkinson’s Disease

FERGUSON, N.C. – Fan favorite and longtime NASCAR team owner Morgan Shepherd has been diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

Shepherd confirmed the news via a post on his team’s website Monday afternoon, which also noted that his familiar No. 89 team plans to be back on the race track next season.

“As we come to a close of 2020, it truly has been a challenging year to many, and for Morgan Shepherd, it is no different,” the statement read. “For the first time in 52 consecutive years, Morgan did not participate in any of NASCAR’s three series. Morgan was in a battle of a different sorts in the challenging 2020 year. After a long year of health issues, Morgan has been diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease.

“In true Shepherd fashion, Morgan is determined to look into 2021 and make plans for another year of NASCAR racing as a car owner. We all have had challenges to overcome and Morgan has always wanted to be an encourager, defying his age in physical and mental ability. Morgan’s charity work with the physically challenged has inspired him in the toughest times and currently continues in his diagnosis.”

As a driver, Shepherd won four NASCAR Cup Series races and 15 NASCAR Xfinity Series races in a career that spans from 1970 to 2019. He finished a career-best fifth in Cup Series points in 1990, tying his career-highs of seven top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.

In all, Shepherd has made 1,027 combined starts across NASCAR’s three national touring divisions. This year marked the first time in 52 years that Shepherd did not make at least one NASCAR national series start as a driver.

Shepherd’s team was more well-known in recent years when Iowa driver Landon Cassill strapped into the familiar No. 89 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Cassill took the underfunded team to an eye-opening ninth-place qualifying effort in September 2019 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway.

Cassill ran four of the first five Xfinity Series races this season, with a best finish of 35th at Phoenix Raceway in March, before the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Shepherd’s team to pause its racing operations.