So thrilled with Morgan Shepherd's 13-place run last week in Talladega, Tony Stewart offered to pay for all Shepherd's tires this weekend at Richmond.
"Everybody loves Morgan to death," Stewart said. "There are a lot of people in the stands that don't realize who Morgan Shepherd is. They think he's just some guy who drives a green race car that says 'Racing with Jesus' every week. They don't understand that years ago he used to be one of the top guys in the Cup series.
"They don't realize that he lost everything and is rebuilding everything now. It just shows that there are a lot of people that care about him as a person and respect him – not only as a race car driver, but as a human being. You can do something like that to help out it's worthwhile, it's somebody that deserves the help."
The 66-year-old Shepherd raced 27 years in the Cup Series, scoring four victories and 168 top 10s in 513 career starts. He currently runs in the Nationwide Series, and his finish last week was his best since an 11th at Talladega in 2003.
It's not unusual for Stewart to help another driver, but the two-time series champion has a soft spot for older racers. He often quietly dips into his pocket to help them continue their fledgling careers.
"I've always felt like I was more old-school racer. I've always felt like I was born 20 years too late," he said.
"I respect guys like Morgan that still work out of their own garage and do the work themselves and still come out here and race against Childress, Gibbs and Roush every week and still go out there with the attitude that 'We're going to do the best we can.'
"He knows he's not going to beat these guys, but he's not going to quit doing what he's doing and it would be easy to just say, 'I can't do this and I can't do this at the level that these guys are doing and I'm washing my hands of it.'
"I think what I respect is that he still has that desire and passion to come and do this and pour his heart and soul into this every week like guys used to do 20 and 30 years ago before all these rich kids started getting all this stuff handed to them – having the best of equipment all the time and not having to work on their own cars.
"They don't even know how to work on their own cars. Makes you appreciate a guy like Morgan that much more."