NASCAR: Landon Cassill Still Looking For First Win After 300 Starts
Landon Cassill recently reached a milestone. Two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway, the 29-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made his 300th career start in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series.
Unfortunately for him, it ended the same as the first
299 starts — without a victory.
Cassill only has one top-10 finish in his 10-year career — a fourth place at Talladega in October 2014. He has just six other finishes in the top 15, including at 14th place at Pocono Raceway in August 2015.
“That’s a cool milestone. I’m very honored to have made that many starts,” Cassill said earlier this month at Pocono during media day for the Pocono 400. “I hate that I’ve gone that many starts without having a win.
“But I also put in perspective the path that my career has taken me. I’ve been given some incredible opportunities, but I haven’t quite been given the opportunity to win yet. So personally, I can’t be too hard on myself for that. I just have to keep my nose down and keep grinding. I’ve kind of had to make a living out of grinding and not giving up. I’m still here for some reason.”
Sure, Cassill would like to win races and contend for championships. However, that hasn’t always been in his job description.
He started out as a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports and over the years bounced around a variety of organizations.
With some teams, winning wasn’t a priority. With others, his job description changed midway through due to something like lack of sponsorship.
“I’ve kind of had to have a fluid career in terms of each situation and understand what my worth even is in that situation,” Cassill said. “Sometimes you don’t know what your worth is. That’s probably the biggest frustration through it all. I’ve managed to survive, so I’m doing something right.”
This season, Cassill is in his first full year with StarCom Racing, driving the No. 00 Chevrolet. He joined the team in March last season and competed in the final 29 races.
After previously leasing a charter from Richard Childress Racing, StarCom purchased it for this season, meaning it is guaranteed a starting spot in each Cup Series race. The team also has a technical alliance with RCR.
One of the reasons Cassill said StarCom hired him was to have a driver it could trust to protect its equipment so that it can focus on building its team.
“They needed to not worry about their cars getting wrecked or if their car is going fast enough,” Cassill said. “I take it very personally if I wreck a car or if there’s damage on a car. I feel like it’s my job to take care of it. Even though it’s my job to race. Sometimes your job isn’t to go be a hero. The difference between finishing 27th and 29th isn’t that big if you had to tear all the fenders off it to do it. My job is to finish 27th or 29th with the fenders on it. And that’s frustrating as a driver because the perception of my team or teams around me is, ‘Oh, he doesn’t race hard on restarts. Or he’s not aggressive enough.’ Yeah, sometimes I’m not being aggressive enough. But I’m also really good at bringing the car home in one piece and driving at 100 percent at the same time.”
Through 12 races, Cassill has an average finish of 31.1 with his best being 24th in the season-opening Daytona 500.
“Our team made some improvements on our capability of speed, but we’ve had some mechanical issues over the last couple of weeks,” Cassill said. “Sometimes that’s just motor sports. That stuff kind of plagues you. For a team that’s really in its first season of owning its own charter and really kind of pursuing the sport, our team owners are extremely committed to this sport and committed to this team, which I’m really optimistic about.”
Now, Cassill heads to Pocono later this week for the Pocono 400, where he has made 17 career starts.
He enjoys coming to the Long Pond track for its family-type atmosphere and the way the Mattioli family has treated him over the years.
Most of all, he enjoys how unique and challenging the racing is there.
“It is so different that it just feels like a different weekend than any other run-of-the-mill race weekend,” Cassill said.
“There have been times I left this race track and felt like I loved it, felt like I was really good here. There are times I’ve left this race track and felt I don’t know what I’m doing at this place. Unique tracks like Pocono will do that to you.”
Practice for the Pocono 400, as well as for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pocono Green 250, is scheduled for Friday, followed by the ARCA Series General Tire #AnywhereIs
Possible 200 at 5:30 p.m.
Qualifying for the Xfinity Series and Cup Series is Saturday morning with the Pocono Green 250 set for 1 p.m.
On Sunday, the Pocono 400 is scheduled to get the green flag at 2 p.m.
Contact the writer:
firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100, ext. 5109;
@swalshTT on Twitter