Analytical, driven, and personable, 29-year-old Landon Cassill ardently works with strengthening the No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet Camaro’s efforts. By all means, the Cedar Rapids, IA native earns some props for his dual roles this year with NASCAR on NBC and StarCom Racing.
Equally important, Cassill epitomizes what it means to be a true team player in NASCAR. Correspondingly, he’s won the respect of his peers and fans with his candor and witty sense of humor. In some ways, he could be regarded as stock car’s version of Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne.
Nevertheless, Cassill capitalizes on his opportunity with NBC Sports and StarCom Racing. Above all, he prepares for his roles with an authentic excitement that’s as unmistakable as his No. 00 Chevy’s paint scheme. By all means, this young racer nary complains, as he counts his blessings while appreciating his journey.
For this reason, Cassill’s role with the StarCom Racing team is more than just driving their No. 00 entry. Consider that he brings in nine years of Cup racing experience to the table. Couple that with team manager Derrike Cope’s insights and it’s a perfect blend of ideas for an upstart organization.
Presently, Cassill’s focus for the No. 00 team has been about maximizing results. In particular, Cassill continues to be a catalyst for constant improvement with five top-25 finishes this year. Ultimately, establishing these solid building blocks only helps StarCom Racing in the long run.
Recently, I caught up with Cassill to talk about his two racing homes, racing alongside some of NASCAR’s young prospects, and of course, his long locks. Similar to his tweets, let’s say this was one of our more unique conversations.
Right now, let’s get to it and start getting “In the Fast Lane with Landon Cassill” of StarCom Racing and NBC Sports!
Rob Tiongson : You’ve been the primary driver of the No. 00 StarCom Racing Chevrolet Camaro entry since Martinsville this past spring. How’s it been like to race with this team and help strengthen this growing organization?
Landon Cassill : It’s been fun. It’s been a learning experience. I’ve worked with a lot of new teams in the past and so you always have a process of A) trying to get the best performance out of the car and do the best job as a driver and B) trying to educate the team owners and help them understand the sport and understand how their money is being spent. I felt like it’s been an enjoyable process for me.
Tiongson : We know there can be some growing pains for a relatively new team. However, given your experience, particularly in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, do you feel it helps address some of the team’s areas of opportunities to accelerate the learning curve?
Cassill : Absolutely. I mean, that’s what they seek out of me and out of having Derrike running the team. In any kind of business that you start, you need to rely on experts in those industries to leverage their relationships and make the right decisions.
I’m not running the team by any means, as I don’t have major decision making with the team as I’m the driver. But, my relationships in this sport has definitely helped StarCom progress.
Tiongson : You’re still a relatively young driver at age 29 but we’ve seen the StarCom Racing team bring in some fresh faces to your teammate No. 99 ride like Garrett Smithley and Kyle Weatherman. How has it been like to provide your input to them and help them get up to speed?
Cassill : It’s been great. I really enjoy working with Kyle Weatherman. He’s a good kid and a good racecar driver. I’m really happy that StarCom has been helping him out particularly.
Tiongson : Fans can now avail themselves of t-shirts that bear your name and your unmistakable No. 00 ride. But you made a silly tweet about it because of your name being misspelled. How can they get your shirt?
Cassill : You can go on to StarCom Racing’s website to get the shirt. But you know how I am. I’m not going to hold back and somebody spelled my name wrong but they fixed it pretty quickly. (laughs)
Tiongson : It seems like the NASCAR garage is full of fans of The Office. Do you have a favorite character and episode, and what’s your take on a potential revival of this beloved sitcom?
Cassill : I would love for it to be revived. I watch The Office all the time. And my favorite character – I don’t know, I like Toby a lot.
Tiongson : Toby, the HR guy?!?
Cassill : Yea, yea. I like his character.
Tiongson : I figured you’d be a Jim Halpert kind of guy with the hair and all.
Cassill : I do like Jim and I like Dwight of course.
Tiongson : You know this question is coming but what is the story behind your epic hairdo that you’re sporting this year? Last year, it was short and business like, but how’d this come about this year?
Cassill : At about this time last year, I just started growing it and said, “I’m not going to stop until somebody tells me to cut it.” And I’ve been on TV with NBC and my boss at NBC called me up and he said, “Hey, I want to talk to you about your hair.”
I was like, “Oh boy, here it comes!” (laughs) He said, “I love it! I love it long. It looks great. You need to keep it long, don’t cut it.” And I said, “OK!” So, we’ll see! (laughs) Like I said, until somebody says, “Hey, it’s going too far,” we’ll let it grow.
Tiongson : You’ve been a recurring analyst for NBC’s NASCAR America along with your primary on-track ride with StarCom Racing. How have you balanced your time between both roles and do you sometimes watch the show to learn what you could do?
Cassill : I enjoy it. It’s been a lot of travel and extra work for me. But, at NBC, they put me on NASCAR America and I made a point to let them know that I’m willing to travel and willing to go to Connecticut to do the shows in the NBC Sports headquarters. I felt like that was the best way for me to learn that business and to get better at it.
It’s been fun to be an analyst on the races because I love the sport and I know so much about it. It’s a different kind of challenge for me because I’ve always been able to gauge my performance by how I finish on the racetrack and it’s hard to gauge my performance on TV and to know how well I’m doing.
But, it’s such a great network and it’s such a professional group of people that runs those shows. I’ve got a lot of good leaders. I think Carolyn Manno is somebody that has just really helped me out a lot on TV and she’s someone that I look up to.
Tiongson : That’s awesome of you to say. I’m sure Carolyn would appreciate hearing that. Like our friend Leilani Munter, you’ve taken up a vegan lifestyle. How challenging has been it to transition over to it? Also, has it given an extra boost during races?
Cassill : As long as I keep it healthy, I mean…it’s easy to be junk food vegan. So, when I’m eating whole foods and clean foods, I really benefit from it for sure. It takes just as much discipline to eat healthy as a vegan as it does anything else. I feel like there’s some extra performance benefits.
Tiongson : Over the years, we’ve seen some of your rides replicated by Lionel Racing. Have you ever collected some of your cars and does it humble you to sign some of your prior rides at the track?
Cassill : It’s very humbling. I love signing cars. It’s especially humbling. I’m still signing No. 5 National Guard cars from 10 years ago. That really sends me back. I love that. It’s definitely special to have so many little cars at my house that my son plays with. That’s probably the best part.
Tiongson : I’ve typically asked drivers what their welcome to NASCAR moment was. What was your “welcome to adulting” moment that’s made you laugh or smile over the years?
Cassill : Man, I wish I could think of a specific moment. I’m not typically good at answering these kinds of questions. I’d say that the adulting moments are always repeatedly reminding you that we don’t get dinner at 8 o’clock anymore. (laughs) We get dinner at 5:30.
It’s like, if you want to go out to eat with the kids, it’s like early dinners and you just can’t go out and drink and party. You have to plan for it and you have to get babysitters. (laughs) Those are the adult reminders that there’s greater responsibilities than your own personal self-interests in the moment.
Special thanks to Landon Cassill and Ashley-Marie Monica of StarCom Racing for this great opportunity during the Michigan race weekend. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with Landon, “Follow” him on Twitter (and show him showcar photos), “Like” his Facebook page, and “Visit” his official website!