Pedal to the Metal with Landon Cassill (April 2019)

With the first quarter of 2019 in the books, Landon Cassill dives in for his monthly journal! (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

With the first quarter of 2019 in the books, Landon Cassill dives in for his monthly journal! (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/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!

For this late April edition, Cassill talks about taking on treacherous Texas Motor Speedway, the quagmire of group qualifying, friendships, and his favorite video game cheat!

Rob Tiongson :  We’re here at Texas and we’ve talked about this year’s aero package extensively in your first two journal entries.  From your perspective, do you think Texas may be indicative of what we may see in future races at Kansas, Charlotte, and Kentucky?  Or is Texas a unique track of its own?

Cassill took on the unique Texas Motor Speedway in chillier than usual conditions. (Photo Credit: Sean Folsom/TPF)

Cassill took on the unique Texas Motor Speedway in chillier than usual conditions. (Photo Credit: Sean Folsom/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  It is a bit of a track of its own.  But, you’re going to see (something) similar to what we’ve seen at the other tracks.  I think that turns three and four here at Texas is more flat out than any of the other tracks that we’ve seen, so we might see a little different racing in three and four.  At turns one and two here at Texas, I think it’s going to be similar to what you’ve seen at Fontana and Las Vegas.

Tiongson :  I know there’s been qualifying snafus as of late.  Does it get frustrating as a driver to see that happen or is it the nature of the game?  Would you want to see NASCAR go back to single car qualifying, if you had a voice on this?

Cassill :  I don’t know if I have a specific solution, but it is a little frustrating and it’s definitely just the way that the game is designed.  The way to make the fastest lap possible is to be behind other cars, so you’re sort of incentivized to wait until the last possible minute to go out.  NASCAR has to kind of change that incentive somehow to get us to want to go out earlier and I don’t know how they’re going to do that.

Tiongson :  If you had a say, would you want to see a heat race or single car qualifying, one lap, one round?

Cassill :  I love single car qualifying.  I think it’s a great test of driver, team, and car.  But I don’t know if it’s the most entertaining product for TV.  Qualifying still gets some pretty decent TV ratings.

So, I think it needs to be an entertaining product and show.  I would be supportive of NASCAR completely rethinking the qualifying process and not just making tweaks or going back to single car qualifying.  Changing it completely would be a better idea.  

Tiongson :  Now, you mentioned the word entertaining.  It brought to mind to me about the recently released Formula One: Drive to Survive series on Netflix.  Would you be open to such a concept in NASCAR, would you want to star in it, and which other drivers and teams would you want to see in this?

Who wouldn't love to see a NASCAR documentary with Landon Cassill and StarCom Racing? (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Who wouldn’t love to see a NASCAR documentary with Landon Cassill and StarCom Racing? (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Cassill :  100 percent!  Yea, I mean, I think that’s great.  I’m about two episodes into the series, so I haven’t watched the whole thing yet.  But, I think you would see so many interesting storylines from every team that you follow.  It doesn’t matter who’s winning the races or competing for championships.

People could really get compelled to follow the storylines and we have a fanbase that’s looking for that.  We have a really active fanbase on social media that’s looking for those storylines and looking to follow their drivers.  So, I think there could be an appetite for that.

Tiongson :  Absolutely!  I think one of the cool things about the series is that it shows there’s more to races than who wins.  It shows the struggle to just point for a race.  Do you see similarities with that in F1 and NASCAR even if both are vastly different?

Cassill :  100 percent.  I mean, there’s multiple, different races going on in the field, and there’s plenty of teams, as you saw in the Formula One documentary, that come to the racetrack knowing that they don’t have a chance to win.  But, they have a goal set and things that they are trying to accomplish.  And I think that, with the right storytellers, you could really show how compelling that is to an audience and people would watch it.

Tiongson :  Now, you sported a pretty cool paint scheme at Texas and I really like it!  It’s got some of the armed forces on it.  How did this all come together?

Cassill :  Yea, the First Responders Association was on our car last year and it was a great partnership with this team.  So, I’m glad to see them come back.  I feel like it definitely sends a good message to our fanbase.  We love supporting them.  They bring some people out to the racetrack on Sunday which is great too.

Tiongson :  Let’s talk about the 2020 schedule!  There’s been so many changes with Phoenix being the last race, Indy’s got the 4th of July weekend date, Daytona’s the regular season finale, and we’ve got night racing at Martinsville!  What are some of the things that you like and what are some wish list items that you would’ve wanted to see? 

Cassill :  I can’t necessarily think of the wish list, but I like the Pocono doubleheader.  I think that’s going to be a cool concept that maybe some other races could try during the summer.

It’s a cool way to keep the same amount of races on our schedule, but maybe condense the schedule by a week because we pretty much only have two off weekends in the summer.  Now, the race season ends a week earlier.  It would be cool to see another doubleheader like at Dover in the future.  I’m excited to see how that goes.

Tiongson :  With this in mind, are you “Team More Short Tracks” or do you like the current variety of tracks at the moment?

If we turn, turn, turn, turn, turn...(Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

If we turn, turn, turn, turn, turn…(Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Cassill :  I love short tracks so I would love to see more of them as well!

Tiongson :  Parker Kligerman wanted me to ask you when Bitcoin will be coming back?

Cassill :  (laughs) It’ll take some time but I’m definitely all about Bitcoin.

Tiongson :  Now, how long do you two go back?

Cassill :  Parker and I have been friends for a while.  We’re good buddies so he’s one of my favorites.

Tiongson :  He had some nice words for you and said, “The one thing I admire about you is how you’ve persevered through so much to find your racing home and that he’d have been driven insane if he went through what you did?”

Cassill :  I appreciate that!  It’s a nice compliment.  I’m not afraid to grind it out and do the hard work.

Tiongson :  I’m not sure if we’ve done this yet but let’s do some Free Association!  Tell me the first thing that comes to mind with the following!  Favorite guilty pleasure dessert.

Cassill :  Hmm, guilty pleasure…putting a fresh toasted waffle in my ice cream!

Tiongson :  The paint ball code.

Cassill :  (laughs) I don’t remember it off the top of my head.

Tiongson :  Favorite childhood video game cheat code.

Safe to say that Landon's not invisible before his race at Martinsville! (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Safe to say that Landon’s not invisible before his race at Martinsville! (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Cassill :  Probably any particular set of cheat codes or the invisibility cheat code on Goldeneye: 007 on the N64!

Tiongson :  Do you remember it offhand? 

Cassill :  (laughs) I don’t remember the cheat code, but I liked to go invisible and play against the AI and walking up behind them and shooting them.

Tiongson :  Most overrated racing word that you hear too many times as a driver.

Cassill :  (ponders) I feel like when people say that they want to “put it in the driver’s hands.”  I want to know what that means and I wish people would expand on what that means. (laughs)

Tiongson :  Most treacherous o-val.  Not sure if you saw the Kevin Hart feature with Bubba Wallace. (laughs)

Cassill :  I don’t really know.  Dover’s pretty treacherous.

Tiongson :  What’s probably the first thing that a driver once had and sees it decline over time?

Cassill :  I think being able to find the limit of the car and that edge.

Tiongson :  Friendships in the garage aside from Parker!

Cassill :  Yea, probably just Parker. (laughs)

Tiongson :  What, you’ve got frenemies?

Moreover, is Landon trying to friend Daniel Suarez at Richmond? (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Moreover, is Landon trying to friend Daniel Suarez at Richmond? (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Cassill :  Yea, pretty much! (laughs)

Tiongson :  Cold weather.

Cassill :  Yea, I’m a fan!

Tiongson :  You’re not afraid of this cold at all, eh?

Cassill :  Not at all!  I’m OK with it.

Tiongson :  We took on some short tracks like Bristol and Richmond.  You had a great run going at Martinsville, so how encouraged are you with that and do you see yourselves having more of those runs in the future?

The Cassill family spending precious time before the race at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

The Cassill family spending precious time before the race at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Cassill :  Yea, I definitely think so!  We love racing at short tracks.  We ran well at Bristol last year.  Richmond’s always been a good track to me.  I think that having a short track stretch is going to be exciting and then going to Talladega, where we have a completely different aero package than what we’ve had the last couple of years, will be a lot of fun.

Tiongson :  Let’s put the technical savvy side to you to the test!  Explain what in the world a tapered spacer is to fans.

Cassill :  (laughs) It’s dropped in the throttle body as opposed to being a plate on the bottom between the throttle body and the intake manifold.  That would be my explanation.

Tiongson :  Is it like a restrictor plate or is it a bit differently?

Cassill :  I don’t know specifically how it performs differently than a restrictor plate but in my mind, it’s pretty similar to a restrictor plate.

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!

Fans, be sure to support StarCom Racing’s initiative to raise funds for the Napoleon Township Police Department!  By simply donating at least $50, you can have your name or the name of a loved one on the decklid of Landon’s No. 00 Chevrolet for this year’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 9, 2019! Click on the link to donate today!  

Rob Tiongson

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

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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