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NASCAR Cup Series

Pedal to the Metal with Landon Cassill (June 2019)

In the long run, Landon Cassill is all smiles about racing with StarCom Racing. (Photo Credit: Rob Tiongson/TPF)

In the long run, Landon Cassill is all smiles about racing with StarCom Racing. (Photo Credit: Rob Tiongson/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 June edition, Cassill analyzes more about the successes of the 2019 package, his pet peeve with everyday driving, and a beloved animated series recently released in the theatre!

Rob Tiongson :  The second half of the regular season kicked off recently and we’re heading to some unique venues, including here at Michigan.  What do you expect in terms of the race here given what we’ve seen at places like Kansas, Charlotte, and Pocono?

Certainly, Cassill enjoys on-track life with the 2019 package. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Certainly, Cassill enjoys on-track life with the 2019 package. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  I think it’s going to be a great race.  I’m really excited.  I think the cars are going to fairly easy to pull out, hold wide open throttle by yourself, which will make it pretty fun in traffic cause I think the draft will be pretty important.  So, I’m expecting to see this package shine this week.

Rob Tiongson :  All in all, does this year’s package favor tracks that have less banking and has freshly repaved asphalt?

Landon Cassill :  No…I don’t know.  I think that tracks with a lot of character in their pavement are still very valuable.  But, I think the magic here with this package is just the ability to run wide open for as long as possible.  I think it allows cars in a group to tighten up a little bit and race around each other.

I think that NASCAR has done a good job with the package and I’m happier with it every week that we run it.  About the only thing missing at Michigan is some traction compound.  I think we should be running traction compound everywhere.

Rob Tiongson :  I’ve seen you’ve been preparing for another Ironman triathlon.  For the most part, what drove you, if you will, to take up these competitions?  Also, do you have any specific goals like trying to best your PR?

Landon Cassill :  No, I don’t have any time goals right now.  I just wanted to take the weekend off and go train for a Half Ironman.  I’ve got a lot of support from Ironman and Triathlon behind me.  And I’m doing some promotion with them and with Hoka One for the running shoes that I’ll be wearing.  It’s something I like to do to stay fit and stay in shape for NASCAR racing.  And I’m a little competitive too, so it’s fun to do the races.

Rob Tiongson :  Oh yea, staying in shape is hard to do when you get near or are in your 30’s.  Whenever you have bad days, how do you shake them off?

Landon Cassill :  That’s not the hard part.  The challenge is just getting the consistency and the early mornings.  I get up at about 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning a few days a week to pull it off.  If it has anything to do with me being in my 30’s, it’s because I’ve got kids, a family, and a busy life. (chuckles)

Rob Tiongson :  Father’s Day is this month.  I recall last month that you took care of Beckham and Daphne for Mother’s Day.  Has Kate agreed to treat you and the kids to a day at the golf course next after Michigan?

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) I do think I’m gonna get a round of golf, so we’ll see.  But I like taking the kids with me.  So, if I get to take the kids on the golf course, that’ll be fun too.

Rob Tiongson :  The Go Fund Me for the Napoleon Township, Michigan police department netted over $6,632 in donations.  How proud are you of with this program and how your team has helped out the town with their funding for their equipment?

Suffice to say, Cassill appreciates the unique partnerships and opportunities from a sponsor like Superior Essex. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Suffice to say, Cassill appreciates the unique partnerships and opportunities from a sponsor like Superior Essex. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  Yea, it’s a great program that Superior Essex came up with.  The Napoleon Township is just 10 minutes away from the track here up the road and they’re a small police department.  And they needed an upgrade their equipment to some new body cameras.  So, we’re glad to pitch in there.  We’ve been able to use our platform to help promote it.

They’ve actually raised upwards to $8,000 so far.  They’re going to reach their goal and make a difference.  I’m going to Aggie’s Sports Bar on Saturday to sign autographs and meet the people of the town and the police force.  I’m sure it’s going to be a cool environment because it’s such a small town but it makes a big impact.

Rob Tiongson :  As a matter of fact, someone recently shared a meaningful thought how NASCAR is a people relationship sport.  By the same token, it’s more than just about what happens on the track.  Overall, how true is this sentiment or observation?

By and large, Cassill's sponsor Superior Essex connects with local communities. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

By and large, Cassill’s sponsor Superior Essex connects with local communities. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  It really is.  It’s all about relationships.  That’s where a lot of these sponsorships come from.  For a sponsor like Superior Essex to prioritize that out of a race weekend that they’re paying for is, I think, extremely helpful for them.  It’s going to help them accomplish their goals with the people that they’re trying to meet and try to spend time around in this sport.  It definitely helps everybody and I’m really proud to meet the folks at the Napoleon Township.

Rob Tiongson :  In general, on the track or on a state highway, what are some of your pet peeves when you’re behind the wheel?

Landon Cassill :  People that don’t use cruise control is a little bit of a pet peeve.  I feel like cruise control is important.  (laughs) And that’s more even as a passenger.  I harp on my wife all the time and try to get her to use cruise control.  That might be one.  Maybe, sometimes, people just need to be more aware of their surroundings.  People are so distracted these days.

Rob Tiongson :  Those damn cell phones, I’m telling you!  Die-cast cars are a huge part of the racing world for fans and even drivers.  Without delay, what were some of your first die-casts in your collection?

Landon Cassill :  Man, I’m trying to think of my first ones.  Some of my favorites ones were the Mark Martin Valvoline paint schemes.  I loved those die-cast cars.  And I always liked having some slightly obscure cars like something from the Busch Series or an ASA national tour car like Gary St. Amant.  Those were some of the die-cast cars that I was particularly proud of.

Rob Tiongson :  Mike Eddy as well, I’m sure!  Now speaking of, I’m sure you likely watch old races on YouTube during some free time.  What are three of your favorite classic races in any motorsports discipline and why?

Landon Cassill :  I tend to gravitate to watching classic Monaco Grand Prix races and classic sprint car races on dirt.  Monaco seems like such a challenging course.  Every time I watch it, I’m just amazed at how those drivers can get around that place.

With dirt racing, it’s timeless and entertaining and it’s fun to watch how they used to do it back in the day.  The cars look about the same as they do now.  It’s pretty cool to watch old stuff like that.

Rob Tiongson :  Did you watch TNN Motor Madness back in the day?

Landon Cassill :  Yea, man.  TNN was a great network and I miss it.

Rob Tiongson :  One of my columnists is writing a piece about the great divide that opinions cause in the world of NASCAR.  All things considered, are there times where there isn’t substance with critiques made by fans with the sport?

As can be seen, Cassill enjoys his conversation with Daniel Suarez at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

As can be seen, Cassill enjoys his conversation with Daniel Suarez at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  I think it’s extremely hard to properly communicate the basis for someone’s opinion in the short amount of time that you have people’s attention span online when you make a tweet, whether it’s a fan or an influence, it’s really hard to properly formulate and deliver the message the right way.  I think it just makes it easy to end up backing into your corner and roping yourself off and closing your mind to other ideas.

It’s really hard to have a conversation just over a text message on Twitter or even on a message board or something like that.  It’s really tough and I think people tend to gravitate towards negativity and it’s really easy to fire off negativity online because we gravitate towards it and it’s easy to be trigger happy on a platform like Twitter.

I don’t take too much to the negativity.  I think the whole world is struggling with that right now.  It’s so much better and easier to have real conversations in-person with people and that’s where you really make progress.

Rob Tiongson :  With the networks being able to replay your radio chatter instantly, would you say that it’s sometimes forced you to keep your language PG for the audiences at home?

Landon Cassill :  That doesn’t really make that big of a difference to me because I generally don’t say something that I wouldn’t repeat saying again anyways.  I’ve had plenty of fussy moments on the radio and I’ve said my fair share of bad words. But, I typically regret it afterwards because I think that sometimes showing that kind of emotion is derailing of your team’s agenda.

Rob Tiongson :  In the meantime, I’m sure you’ve seen some of the upcoming animated or live action films that are either playing or will play soon like Aladdin and The Lion King.  What’s it mean for you to share those experiences with your kids, even if these renditions are different from what you and I grew up to?

Landon Cassill :  I’m really excited to see Toy Story 4.  I’m really excited to see that as I remember when I went to see the original Toy Story at the theatre on my birthday.  And I have a vivid memory of the moment that Buzz Lightyear was on the back of RC and the firecracker lit off and it shot him up in the air.  For some reason, that stuck with me my whole life.

Beckham loves Toy Story.  We were in New York last week and we went to the Disney Store and checked out a lot of the Toy Story stuff.  Daphne got an Olaf.  I can’t remember what he ended up taking home, but he was interested in the Lightning McQueen stuff. (chuckles) He likes Toy Story, so we’re really excited to see that movie.

Rob Tiongson :  You’ve been helping out Morgan Shepherd some this year.  It seems like you’ve worked with a lot of the legends in NASCAR.  In effect, what is it like to pick their brain given your experience and knowing they’re tabbing you to drive their cars?

In particular, Cassill enjoys helping out Morgan Shepherd's racing team. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

In particular, Cassill enjoys helping out Morgan Shepherd’s racing team. (Photo Credit: Stephen Conley/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  It’s been cool.  Morgan is a really great guy and I just appreciate him trusting me with his racecar.  It’s the only one that he’s got.  I’ve got a lot of respect for him and the hard work that he puts towards his team.  It’s truly an honor to fill in for him when he needs it.  He can call me any time and if that helps me with my folk hero status, then I’m OK with that too. (chuckles)

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 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 Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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