Pedal to the Metal with Landon Cassill (August 2019)

Certainly, Landon Cassill had a busy August! (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Certainly, Landon Cassill had a busy August! (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

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 with his monthly journal!

For Cassill’s August journal, we talk about his latest athletic feat, dealing with Silly Season, a Darlington throwback idea, and some Holy Grail die-cast cars!

Rob Tiongson :  Landon, at the moment when we worked on this journal, you weren’t in the US, but you were getting ready for another Ironman Half-Triathlon race in France.  How prepared are you and which of the events are you looking forward to most?

Landon Cassilll :  I’m really excited.  I’m in Vichy, which is a small town, a pretty good size town, but not a big city by any means. But it’s about four hours south of Paris and I’m doing a Half Ironman 70.3.  So, I’m pretty excited.

I enjoy the swim, bike, and run.  I feel like I’m fairly prepared but not as well prepared as I have been for some other races.  This will be a good kickoff race for me to really train hard and try to set a personal best at another race next year.

Rob Tiongson :  Certainly!  We all wish you the best of luck with that.  Now, we know that NASCAR is a close family.  How nice was it to see drivers, even if there’s disagreements or differences, band together and look after their fellow peer after a scary situation like what happened to Dale Earnhardt Jr and his family?

Landon Cassilll :  Yea, it was definitely kind of a surreal moment to see that.  We’re just so happy that Dale, Amy, Isla, and the pilots are OK.  They’re just so incredibly lucky and there’s just not a whole lot to say – it definitely went through my mind of what could’ve happened if they weren’t OK and it was just a terrifying thought.

You know, it’s hopefully something that they can hopefully recover from together as a family.  I’ve never been in a situation like that but man, we fly every single weekend.  We fly so often and it’s just kind of crazy to think that could happen to us.  So, we’re just really grateful that Dale and his family are OK.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, you’ve had great runs for StarCom and JD Motorsports.  How rewarding is it to see that hard work pay off on the Cup side and to run inside the top-10 in the XFINITY race at Bristol? 

Above all, Cassill compiled respectable results at Bristol. (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Above all, Cassill compiled respectable results at Bristol. (Photo Credit: Daniel Overbey/TPF)

Landon Cassilll :  Yea, it was great.  Bristol’s been really good to me the last few years.  I was really happy with our performance with the XFINITY car.  I felt like I could’ve run a little bit better.  But, I had a pit road speeding penalty that put me at the tail end of the line and an untimely caution that trapped me a lap down.  But a top-10 in Johnny Davis’ car is always a good result and I’ve got two of them this year, so that’s actually pretty impressive for us.

With our 00 car, we really felt like we struggled with the car during that weekend.  I never really felt like I was landing very well into the corners.  We struggled during both practice sessions.  But we qualified fairly well.  When the race started, the car was just an absolute handful.  So, Joe (Williams, crew chief) did a good job adjusting on the car and getting it turned around for me and tightened up.  And when it tightened up, it really took off.

We gained two laps back on the people that we normally race against.  And we were able to chase down the 15 car at the end and pass him and beat him.  It was about as good of a finish that we could ask for.

Rob Tiongson :  I’ve asked various folks on Twitter.  Do you recall the first NASCAR Cup Race you saw on TV and the first NASCAR Cup Race you went to in person?

Landon Cassilll :  Man, I’d have to go pretty far back for the first one that I saw on TV! (laughs) But I do have an early childhood memory.  I think it was in 1997 at Talladega that got rained out and raced on Saturday.  I asked my mom to tape it for me and she forgot to tape it and I was so mad at her that she didn’t tape it for me. (laughs) I can’t remember who won the race but it went caution free.

Rob Tiongson :  Mark Martin won the race.  I don’t know how I remember that! (laughs)

Landon Cassilll :  Yep, so that’s an early race that I remember.  For the first Cup race that I ever went to in person, believe it or not, I never attended a Cup race in person until I was working for Hendrick, so it’d be the 2007 Atlanta spring race and Jimmie Johnson won it.  And, I was there, and I went to Victory Lane because I was a Hendrick employee.

Rob Tiongson :  As someone who’s fought hard to be in NASCAR, how stressful can silly season get when you’re hoping to know what your next situation will be for the new year?

Landon Cassilll :  Oh, it’s super stressful just because there’s so many things that you don’t know and not in control of – even if you’re in a situation where you have a contract for the next year during Silly Season, you’re still maybe a bit on the edge because so many different things can happen and you don’t know what people are working on that you’re not aware of.

Sometimes, there’s a couple of ways to handle it.  One way to handle is to know as much as possible and convince yourself of the scenario and ease your anxiety through knowledge.  Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if that’s a better way or just not worrying about it is a better way and recognizing that you can’t control every situation and you don’t really know what’s going on.  And you won’t even know what’s going on especially if sometimes things are working against you.

There’s going to be a reason for you not to know and so, those are the two different ways that I think people handle Silly Season and I’m not really sure which is the better way.  It’s pretty exhausting to try to keep up with all of the rumors and keep up with what people are doing.  Sometimes, it’s better to focus on your own job and situation and control what you can control.

Rob Tiongson :  Probably good advice to avoid Adam Stern’s Twitter in this case!  Now, you’re one of the many athletes and celebrities on Cameo – how did this all come together and how fun is it to do the videos?

In this case, Cassill makes time for fans at the track or through Cameo. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

In this case, Cassill makes time for fans at the track or through Cameo. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Landon Cassilll :  It’s been very fun.  I enjoy Cameo.  Cameo reached out to me about a year ago and convinced me to sign up.  I hesitated to sign up for it at first and I’ve hesitated to promote it on my social media outside of Cameo mainly because I’m not sure how I feel about charging money for videos for fans.  But I guess I’ve had a lot of fans that were just really thrilled to send me $10, $15, or $20 and have me make a video.  And they seem like they enjoy it and I enjoy sending a message.  And I enjoy personalizing it and making it more unique than they were anticipating or what they asked for.

Sometimes, people will send me an additional tip on top of what they paid.  And sometimes, it makes me feel good when they leave thank you comments.  It makes me feel like that they really got their value out of it.  So, I’ve kinda grown to really enjoy Cameo and it’s fun.  And it puts a little bit of money in my pocket which is really nice. (laughs) So, it’s nice to get those requests!

Rob Tiongson :  I’ve thought about having you do one someday!  What is the one holy grail of diecast cars that you hope to get one day?

Landon Cassilll :  Man, I don’t know about holy grail.  I like the old die-cast cars and the small ones.  I didn’t really collect the 1/24 scale as I liked collecting the 1/64 scale cars just because I liked to play with them.  And I like to play with them with my kids.  So, I actually don’t just like to put them on a shelf and look at them.

It’s hard to pick a Holy Grail because I like the older cars and I don’t know all of the older schemes. It just seems like I enjoy going through a box of cars and coming across an old car that you remember running or seeing somebody run.

I feel like any Dale Earnhardt car is really cool, especially as I have a couple of GM Goodwrench Luminas, pre-1994 cars.  Those are some pretty cool die-casts and I really like the original Mark Martin Valvoline paint scheme.  I feel like that’s a Holy Grail die-cast car and I have a couple of those.

Rob Tiongson :  I’m always looking for cars like that one day for my collection!

Landon Cassilll :  If you’re ever in Charlotte, go to Plan B Sales.  They have a lot of stuff!

Rob Tiongson :  For sure!  You’re once again in the newest NASCAR game to be released next month. In fact, your StarCom Racing car is in it!  Do you plan to do some multiplayer races with family and friends and hoping there’s some Easter Eggs like the paintball code in NASCAR 98?

Fittingly, Cassill is in the newest NASCAR game! (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Fittingly, Cassill is in the newest NASCAR game! (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassilll :  I remember that one!  That was NASCAR 98. (laughs) I don’t know. I’ll have to get the new game and check it out.  I feel like the offseason is always a good time to play video games.  It’s an annual tradition with a couple of friends that whenever it’s Thanksgiving time and the racing season is over, or maybe October whenever the newest Call of Duty game comes out, we always buy it and we’re digging out our Xboxes from the last winter and usually play Call of Duty two or three times and realizing that we’re not really honed in on our Call of Duty skills. (laughs)

We might play it a couple of times during the offseason.  But that’s definitely an offseason tradition, which is digging out the Xbox and playing Call of Duty a few times when that initial boredom of not being on the road anymore hits.  By the time January comes around, I get busy again for the racing season.  But I’ll definitely play some video games when I get bored.  What I need to do is set myself up to stream on Twitch.  That would be a fun to do some races and play games.

Rob Tiongson :  You stole my idea, my friend! (laughs) Corey Lajoie seems to be having some fun colors in his car with his face at Daytona and now the Scooby Doo ride for Martinsville. What cartoon series would you want to have on your StarCom Racing ride?

Landon Cassilll :  I want to do Wacky Races and I tried to get them to do Dick Dastardly cause his car was Number 00.  I tried to get them to do that for the Darlington throwback, but I didn’t pull that off. (laughs)

But yea, if we were a cartoon, it’d totally be Wacky Races and it has nothing to do with the race team! I just think Wacky Races is awesome, so don’t take offense, StarCom Racing, if we do that! (laughs)

Rob Tiongson :  I’ll back you up on that! (laughs) We take on Darlington, Indy, and Las Vegas once we resume racing on the Cup side. What makes each track unique and challenging to you and your peers?  And how about that amazing throwback car for the Southern 500?

By all means, Cassill sports a spectacular throwback for Darlington. (Photo Credit: Zach Catanzareti)

By all means, Cassill sports a spectacular throwback for Darlington. (Photo Credit: Zach Catanzareti)

Landon Cassilll :  We have a Sterling Marlin throwback paint scheme for Darlington. And I’m really looking forward to Darlington. I really love the tire falloff there.  The aero package there is going to be really interesting with the cut horsepower and the low RPMs that we run.

I think it’s going to make it really hard to pass, but I think the bottom groove will be really good in Turns Three and Four.  I think the top groove will be really good for momentum.  So, I feel like this aero package has raced really well at a lot of racetracks.  I don’t think Darlington will be an exception – it’ll be a really good race.

Indy’s a lot of fun and the aero package will be really interesting.  You’ll see some wild restarts for sure and that track’s proven to have some pretty big pileups and that can definitely happen.  So, definitely looking forward to these next three races.

Obviously, Vegas is a fun one and I’m glad we’re going there twice this year.  I think that’s a venue that deserves two races.  I love going out to the West Coast.  Even though it’s a tough flight and tough travel, Vegas is a fun venue so I’m really looking forward to it.

I thought the spring race for us went well. We got the car driving fairly decent at the end of the race.  Hopefully, we’ll get to see how much speed we really picked up from the start of the year once we go back to Vegas.  Our car will be completely different from what we had in March.

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! Lastly, Landon and his team are offering Darlington 2019 throwback t-shirts! Follow this link to purchase a shirt where $5 from each sale will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research!

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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