Junie Donlavey, Morgan Shepherd Together at Atlanta

Donlavey, Shepherd hook up for Cracker Barrel 500 By Dave Rodman RICHMOND, Va. (March 10, 1999) A pair of solid veterans -- driver Morgan Shepherd and car owner Junie Donlavey -- will team for the second time this season this weekend in the ...

Donlavey, Shepherd hook up for Cracker Barrel 500 By Dave Rodman

RICHMOND, Va. (March 10, 1999) A pair of solid veterans -- driver Morgan Shepherd and car owner Junie Donlavey -- will team for the second time this season this weekend in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Shepherd, 57, who has scored three of his four career NASCAR Winston Cup victories at the 1.54-mile quad-oval, will drive the No. 90 Ford Taurus for the second time when practice opens on Friday for MCI WorldCom Pole Day for the Bud Pole Award. Both said it is currently a one-race deal although the potential is there for it to continue.

Donlavey's search for primary sponsorship continues, but he is no less determined to be at the race track for each event. The 50-year team owner said "I can't go there with nothing on the car" -- sounding as if his point was more aesthetic than functionally financial. Therefore, Donlavey said the car would carry sponsorship from Accu-turn Industries, a Richmond company that has supported him previously, including the season opening Daytona 500.

Donlavey gave a lot of credit to Accu-turn President Nelson Saunders for the ability to get to the Cracker Barrel 500.

"I've known him since he was a kid," Donlavey said, "and he's really been a friend and has helped us immensely."

For their mutual parts, Donlavey and Shepherd are pretty enthused themselves to get back together in what has been a grinder of a year -- even though it's only three races old..

"I AM thrilled," Donlavey said of the upcoming reunion with Shepherd, who drove his car to a 32nd place finish at North Carolina Speedway in the Dura-Lube/Big Kmart 400 last month. "Our biggest problem is when you don't have a sponsor, but we are going to keep running anyway -- I'm going to do what I have to do."

Getting back together with Shepherd, who has a strong orientation in chassis set-up knowledge, should be a good break for both.

"I'm very much looking forward to getting back to Atlanta with Junie," said Shepherd, who had a high top-10 run going in last fall's NAPA 500 at AMS before he got tangled up with race-winner Jeff Gordon in turn one and crashed. "He's had a good car there last year, the last couple races -- and especially the last race I was there."

Donlavey's driver in 1998, Dick Trickle, qualified third and finished sixth at Atlanta in the spring and qualified eighth and finished 12th at the NAPA 500. He was on the lead lap both times. Shepherd said that even though Donlavey does not have the same crew as a year ago, by pooling talent they have good potential.

"I had a good car with the eight car team (Stavola Brothers Racing) last November and he's had good cars there," Shepherd said. "We're gonna take what both of us know and put it together. He'll have a good qualifying set-up, and I can help on the race set-up and we can build on that."

Shepherd said that despite the relatively low finishing position at "The Rock," he and the team established the basis for a successful relationship.

"They sure did respond well to my input and my experience," Shepherd said. "We just kind of hit it off. They paid attention to my suggestions and we communicated real good. Junie's still got a heckuva good bunch of people. Now, if we can just find the sponsorship to keep both of us going."

Shepherd said he is continuing discussions with a number of companies. He thought he had a deal in place to finally establish his own team at the start of this season, but that deal didn't pan out. It continued what's been a three-year struggle for a driver with solid career numbers from a 23-year career in NASCAR Winston Cup racing.

"Chemistry is a big thing in this sport -- I've not heard many say it's not," he said. "It's very important and in our little bit of working together at Rockingham we really clicked. We both need the financial backing to stay in the sport but Junie and I would certainly consider staying together."

Donlavey concurred, continuing to show his concern for his driver's well-being in the face of their mutual uncertainty.

"I hate to tie him up in case someone comes along with a big deal for him," Donlavey said. "He and I understand each other and we'll go along like we're going for now."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Dick Trickle , Morgan Shepherd