Throughout NASCAR’s top-three series, the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent nine-week shutdown has made the 2020 season difficult for many drivers and organizations, but possibly none have been more difficult than the season for Shepherd Racing Ventures and their driver Landon Cassill.
Shepherd – the owner-driver and longtime journeyman – will face some new challenges from this point forward in his racing efforts, as the 79-year-old team owner announced that he has been diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
However, that won’t stop him and Shepherd Racing Ventures from trying to return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021, with Landon Cassill behind the wheel of the No. 89 Chevrolet Camaro.
At the end of 2018, Shepherd hired Cassill to qualify his No. 89 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the Iowa-native went out and put it into the second round of qualifying. That effort alone, landed Cassill a part-time effort in the No. 89 in 2019, which included the season-finale at Homestead, where the team was able to acquire enough funding to purchase tires and run the duration of the event.
Cassill brought the No. 89 Chevrolet home in 15th. Following the race, came the announcement that SRV and Cassill were going to try and run full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020, hoping to find adequate sponsorship to ensure that a start and park wasn’t as frequent for the No. 89.
The team made their first of four appearances in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – after skipping the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. The team finished 36th, 36th, 35th and 38th respectively, but ran into an issue following the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the series’ elimination of practice and qualifying, the Shepherd Racing Ventures team was left to scramble and hunt for sponsorship dollars, as without them, the No. 89 would be unable to return to the track. The team later posted this message on their website
“DONATE: NASCAR is back on track amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the good news. The bad news is, amidst the economy being shut down, the #89 team needs sponsorship for the next six races on the schedule. If you or your organization would like to help keep Landon Cassill on the track, please click on the button below to donate or fill out the form below to receive information on sponsorship costs. Thank you.”
Unfortunately, the team was unable to find the sponsorship needed to return to the track in 2020, but that hasn’t stopped the team from trying, as Shepherd is “anxious to get back to the track next year and be competitive”, stating that watching from home has not been a lot of fun.
The team is working hard on getting back to the track for 2021, with Landon Cassill back behind the wheel of the No. 89, however, the team says they must find a full-time sponsorship that will allow them to run the entire race all season long.
If the sponsorship happens to come to fruition, the team will need to purchase some newer cars to be as competitive as possible, as the team confirmed the sale of their intermediate track car to Johnny Davis and JD Motorsports.
“We did have one large company which we were speaking with, which we thought was going to come to fruition, but it has not. We have a search team, but at this time, we have no major leads.”
Through what has been a difficult year for everyone, the drive and determination to get back to the race track from the 79-year-old has not waivered, battling through health problems, sponsorship issues and a global pandemic to have the opportunity to get the Shepherd Racing Ventures No. 89 back on track in 2021.
If you or your company are interested in supporting the No. 89 Shepherd Racing Ventures team, visit their website (morganshepherdracing.com) and fill out the contact forum on the front page of their website, or you can donate directly to Shepherd Racing Ventures through PayPal.