Pedal to the Metal with Landon Cassill (March 2019)

From Las Vegas to Phoenix, a now short haired Landon Cassill stops by for his monthly column! (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr./TPF)

From Las Vegas to Phoenix, a now short haired Landon Cassill stops by for his monthly column! (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr./TPF)

Each month, Landon Cassill, driver of the No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, shares his thoughts on the world of NASCAR, happenings in pop culture, and virtually anything on his mind!

Presently, Cassill shares his thoughts on the oft-discussed aero and motor package, the impact of Hallie Deegan for future NASCAR talents, his new crew chief Joe Williams, and where he’d travel for a week!

Rob Tiongson : With three races in, we’ve seen you and the StarCom Racing team have a promising run at Daytona followed by some challenges at Atlanta and Las Vegas.  Firstly, what are some things that you are encouraged by as you prepare for Phoenix and Fontana?

Landon Cassill :  I think the most encouraging thing right now is our new crew chief Joe Williams.  He came on board at Atlanta and I think he’s working really well with Todd Parrott, our technical director.  I’m really excited about Joe and feel like he’s got some really current ideas to bring to the team.  I’d like to see what he can do to get us organized and get us where we need to go.

Tiongson :  Of course, I find it awesomely appropriate that you were able to have Mane ‘n Tail return to the team as a primary sponsor for the summer Pocono race.  In like fashion, how excited are you to have them back later this year?   Moreover, what does this say to you about the power of social media?

A sentimental NASCAR sponsor returns to Pocono Raceway this July!

A sentimental NASCAR sponsor returns to Pocono Raceway this July!

Cassill :  It’s great!  Mane ‘n Tail is a good company and it was a lot of fun working with them last year.  First of all, they had a vibrant looking car (at Michigan) and their products are awesome!  We use them all throughout the house.

Last year was the first time that I worked with Mane ‘n Tail but the Copes have worked with them for a long time.  It’s cool to have them back and it was great that they jumped on it when they found my tweet.

Tiongson : Similarly, you’ve got a cool partner in Iron Mountain Data Centers on the car for Phoenix. How’d this partnership come about?  Furthermore, what does it mean to you for you and your team to bring them into NASCAR?

Cassill :  It’s always great.  They’re a product of our relationship with Superior Essex who is a manufacturer of fiber cables and they supply a lot of material to Iron Mountain.  Superior Essex is a company that has heavily invested in NASCAR as a business-to-business tool.  They come to teams and they bring sponsorships to teams, but then they use that sponsorship to leverage business relations.  So, it’s always great.

It’s nice to have Superior Essex on the car but it’s even better when Superior Essex is able to put one of their clients or partners on the car like Iron Mountain.  I’m really excited to meet them.  Those folks are going to be out at the race in Phoenix this weekend.  I’ll get to go to dinner with them on Saturday night and spend some time.

I’m not sure when our next Superior Essex race is but they have a couple of more client-type races lined up this season.  I’m always really proud of how they run their program.

Tiongson :  Last month, we talked about the new aero and motor package and what to expect from it.  You were pretty accurate with it.  At the present time, what’s your evaluation of it so far?  Furthermore, if you could change anything about it, what would it be?

Without delay, Cassill zooms his way to the first corner of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Without delay, Cassill zooms his way to the first corner of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Cassill :  I think if I could tweak anything, it really depends on what you would like to accomplish.  I think to tweak it and further accomplish what NASCAR is trying to do with the package, with closer pack style racing where the cars run wide open and the drivers have to draft to pass each other, I think they probably would need to take another hundred horsepower away from the cars and slow them down a little bit more.

I felt like the horsepower that we had at Charlotte last year with the All-Star Race is probably a little bit closer to what they need to have.  But I still don’t know if that’s a guarantee.

The extreme amount of downforce that the cars have definitely creates a big hole in the air where the cars, as you saw in Vegas, pretty aero tight behind people in traffic.  If I could have my way with it, a lot of drivers would love to have the horsepower back.  I don’t know if having the horsepower back is even necessary.

I think it’s fine if we have 500 to 600 horsepower, but it would just be cool to have a car with zero downforce and no ground effects at all with lots of air going underneath the car to where the car isn’t reliant on aerodynamics at all.  It would be interesting to see how the cars would race like if that was the case.

Tiongson : Last weekend, Hailie Deegan won her second NASCAR K&N race, this time coming in the dirt track at Las Vegas.  As a racer and a father to your daughter Daphne, how huge is it to see her succeed as a catalyst to promote or encourage more women into a career of stock car racing?

Cassill :  I think it’s incredible.  Hailie is a great talent and has a wonderful personality.  She comes from a racing family, so she knows what she’s doing.  I told her when I saw her during media day at Daytona that she was my pick to win at Las Vegas.  I felt like the opening race for the K&N West Series, being on a dirt track, plays into her hands.

Those young drivers have a hard-enough time getting comfortable in the cars for the first race of the season, let alone comfortable at a dirt track which they’re probably not used to racing at.

For her, with an off-road background, she can jump right into it.  She definitely didn’t let me down and won that race at Las Vegas.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Hopefully, my daughter will be interested.  Maybe someone like Hailie Deegan will be a driver that she looks up to and if Daphne wants to go racing, I would fully support it.

Tiongson :  That would be cool to see.  All in all, with all the diverse talents in NASCAR coming into play, someone like Hallie could help the sport.

Recently, NASCAR Heat 3 had a 2019 update and by golly, you’re in the game!  Does it seem somewhat surreal to see your office, if you will, in a game and see folks on YouTube or other gaming platforms race your car?

Cassill :  Yea, it is, it’s really cool.  I love seeing my car in the game.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and picking cars to race with.  I’m glad that the NASCAR game and platform is doing really well right now.

Tiongson : Oh, for sure!  At any rate, I’ve got to ask you, how the heck did the “Showcar Hall of Fame” start for you?

Cassill :  I’m not sure.  I’m trying to think which one of my friends coined the term and I started to adopt it.  I can’t remember which one of friends coined the term and I wish I could give them the credit.  It could be Steve Luvender.  Yea, there’s some really awesome showcars in this world so I feel like they deserve a hall of fame. (laughs)

Tiongson : Now, let’s talk about the upcoming tracks in some detail.  What are some of the unique characteristics and challenges that you look forward to tackling at Phoenix and Fontana?

Cassill :  The biggest thing I’m thinking about right now is how different the experience is going to be at each race track.  At Phoenix, we’re going to have 750 horsepower and no aero ducts.  At Fontana, we’re going to have 550 horsepower and aero ducts.  The cars will be quite a bit different and the racing is going to be quite a bit different even though it always is between those two tracks.

It’s just going to be very different.  My approach to each weekend is just going to be a bit different.  It’ll be interesting going have it at Daytona or any time yet this season.  That’ll be the first time to have that type of throttle response since November.

Tiongson :  In other words, it might feel like going from the 100 CC class in Mario Kart to 150 CC, I bet.


Cassill :  Yea, absolutely.  It typically feels that way just from spending a week in Daytona with a restrictor plate and then going to your first race where you don’t have a restrictor plate.  But we tested at Vegas in January, we spent a week in Daytona, we raced at Atlanta and Las Vegas, so we’re pretty used to what the 550-horsepower engine feels like.  It’ll definitely put you back on your seat a little bit at the start.

Tiongson :  Just watch out for those banana peels or red shells on the track…

Cassill :  (laughs) Exactly!

Tiongson : Previously, we talked about a potential theme song for you when you’re at the track.  Generally, when you wake up, do you have a particular song or ringtone that plays for you?

Cassill :  No, I wouldn’t say there’s any ringtone or song.  But my wife and I watched Bohemian Rhapsody last week and it reminded me how great of a band Queen is.

When I was a kid, my parents had Queen’s Greatest Hits album.  When I first learned how to use a CD player, that was one of the CDs I listened to over and over again when I was probably eight years old. (laughs)

I know a lot of Queen songs fairly well.  I started playing them and my son Beckham really loves the “Bicycle Race” song.  He’s been begging me to play it every single time we get in the car over and over again.  It’s fun singing the “Bicycle Race” song with Beckham.

Tiongson :  By all means, that is a great song!  Indeed, if Jimmie Johnson invites you again to a bicycle ride, you’ll have to sing it with him! (laughter)

Now, if you were presented with the opportunity to be a globetrekker for a week, what countries would you want to visit?

Cassill :  I’ve always wanted to go to China.  I would love to go to China.  My wife has zero interest in going to China.  For some reason, I’ve always wanted to go.

I think it’s because I know it’s so different from where we live that I feel like it’s probably the most polarizing place to visit.  Not just like Shanghai, but I’d love to go somewhere way off the beaten path in China where nobody literally speaks English.  I think it would be fun!

Tiongson :  Sounds like you’d want to be a minimalist from the sounds of things!

Cassill :  Or just adventurous! (laughs)

Tiongson :  That’s more like it.  With this in mind, as you’re a child of the 1990’s, did you ever play a particular video game, non-racing related, that was absolutely addicting?

Cassill :  Goldeneye 007 on the N64 was definitely a staple of my childhood as was Mario Party.  Those are probably the two (on the console).  I would say that one of the first video games that I got on PC was Madden 99 as well as the Backyard Football and Baseball games.  I don’t know if you remember those…

Tiongson :  Oh yea…definitely!  I miss those games and wish they would still have those today.

Cassill :  Yea, I wish!  They would be so great on an iPhone.  That’d be a great iPhone app to have.

Tiongson :  Backyard NASCAR…I’m just saying!

Expressly, Cassill probably could be NASCAR's true YouTube Gaming star. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Expressly, Cassill probably could be NASCAR’s true YouTube Gaming star. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Cassill :  Ah, good one!  That’d be a good one! (laughter)

Tiongson :  Perhaps your superpower is hair gel in this game.

Cassill :  (laughs) Yea, it’d probably be something like.  That’d be cool!

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Landon and StarCom Racing for this wonderful opportunity!  We look forward to more insights and perspectives from Landon as he brings us closer to the world of NASCAR.  Stay tuned for next month’s journal entry with Landon here on TPF!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.


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