Sunday, April 26, 1981 – Thirty-nine-year old Morgan Shepherd led 203 of 500 laps in the Virginia 500 to earn his first NASCAR premier series victory, beating Neil Bonnett by a full 15 seconds at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Shepherd, competing for rookie of the year honors, took the lead for the final time with 89 laps remaining in his No. 5 Cliff Stewart-owned Pontiac.
• Martinsville was the site of several memorable events in Shepherd’s career. In addition to his first premier series win, in 1977 he won a Late Model Sportsman race that provided enough funding to allow him to continue his racing career; and in 1980 he was married on the start/finish line at the .526-mile facility.
• Shepherd became just the third driver to win during his rookie season, joining Dale Earnhardt (1979) and Earl Ross (1974).
• The victory came in Shepherd’s 15th start in the series, his first as a full-time competitor.