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Pedal to the Metal with Landon Cassill (May 2019)

By all means, Landon Cassill and his team are excited about the upcoming races. (Photo Credit: Andrew Fuller/TPF)

By all means, Landon Cassill and his team are excited about the upcoming races. (Photo Credit: Andrew Fuller/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 May edition, Cassill expresses optimism in his team’s gains with their fleet of cars, potential ideas of the Gen 7 car, the significance of Mother’s Day, and partaking in “The Greatest Day in Motorsports!”

Rob Tiongson : First of all, we’ve seen the 00 showcase some speed in recent weeks.  For this reason, how encouraged are you about the gains you and StarCom Racing have made as we head towards the late spring segment of the year?

Landon Cassill :  I’m very encouraged.  We took a couple of cars in our shop and did some body work to them that got them a little bit more up to date to the needs of this year’s aero package.  So, I think it’s definitely worth some speed.  And, I think our challenge was that effort is going to be getting the balance in traffic.

I felt like my car was tougher to drive in traffic in practice at Kansas.  We’ll have to work on that over the next few weeks, but we’ve got a couple of cars in the shop that are like this one.  I think it’s definitely worth at least four or five tenths of qualifying, single car speed.

Rob Tiongson :   Speaking of single car speed, we’ve recently seen the return of single car qualifying.  In fact, we talked about this possibility at Texas.  By all means, what’s your take on the return of single car qualifying?  Likewise, do you think it’s a fair way to sort out the field especially with the new qualifying draw?


Landon Cassill :  I like it.  I’ve always been a fan of single car qualifying and I’ve always felt like I was good at it.  It’s kind of a great way for the car, driver, and racetrack to have one shot at getting your best time trial for the starting lineup.

Group qualifying served a great purpose in our sport and it probably may have a place in our sport one day.  For this kind of car that we’ve been racing, single car qualifying is going to be the best package.

As long as you’re using a time trial format to set the starting lineup for any motorsport event, single car qualifying is definitely a really good way to do that.  I’m definitely a fan of it.  I think that if we were to explore other options, I think rethinking how to set the starting lineup altogether outside of a time trial format might be the way to go.

Rob Tiongson :  Absolutely.  I mean, in recent years, we’ve seen heat races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.  By the same token, that may be what we’ll see, especially with the Gen 7 car in a few years.

Landon Cassill :  Yea, absolutely.  You just never know when NASCAR might want to rethink something or the TV partners may want to see something different, or the fans may want to see something different.  But for now, the priority is to set the starting lineup based on some sort of time trial format.  Single car qualifying is a really good way to do that.

Rob Tiongson :  Now, I know that there’s a GoFundMe for the Napoleon Township, MI Police Department.  Fans can get their names on the decklid of the No. 00 car.  What started all of this and how can fans help out as we head closer to the June 9th race at MIS?

Landon Cassill :  That came from my sponsor Superior Essex and their desire to help out the Napoleon Police Department.  I’m really proud of them and for identifying those folks and their needs.  It’s just a small department with a budget of around $300,000 and they’ve had instances where fresh body cameras and in-car cameras would have done the population or community a great service.  This is going to be a great, necessary upgrade for them and allow them to do their job.

Rob Tiongson :   It’s really cool and we’ll share that information with our fans here.  Not to mention, I like that you guys help out with the law enforcement and other organizations that protect us every day.

Now, at Dover, it had to be pretty tough to be stuck there for an extra day.  Nobody likes rain delays.  How do you get through them and make the best of it at a place like Dover?

Rain or shine, Cassill finds ways to make the most of good times. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Rain or shine, Cassill finds ways to make the most of good times. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  I always just keep an eye on the weather and get the best idea of whether I think we’re going to race or not.  That way, I can prepare myself mentally for the race, whether it happens on that day or the next day.

Dover’s not a bad place to have a rain delay just because I always try to stay at the casino/hotel right next to the track.  If the rain gets rained out, it’s just a walk over the bridge and back to my hotel room.

Rob Tiongson :  That’s true!  Did you win some money at the casino?

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) No, I didn’t gamble at Dover.  I usually do a little bit but I didn’t that week and I enjoyed my time at the casino.

Rob Tiongson :  Sometimes, that’s fair enough to not do what Kenny Rogers says to do.  Now, we had a very different package for the All-Star Race with the hood scoops.  Be that as it may, what’s your thoughts on this and might this be something we’ll see with the Gen 7 car?

Landon Cassill :  I’m not really sure to be honest with you.  I know that the splitter design and the hood scoops have been something that’s been on NASCAR’s radar for a couple of years now.  I’ve seen renderings of it, and I’ve seen it on physical cars in the wind tunnel in the past.  I’m anxious to see what it is and what the agenda is.  But I don’t have enough knowledge about it to give anything predictive.

I know that the purpose of the hood scoops is kind of interesting.  It potentially eliminates the need to have any tape on the front grille.  Obviously, engines will run a lot cooler and probably make a little bit more horsepower.  I think that the idea of it is that the aerodynamics of the car will be consistent, even in traffic.  That’ll be pretty interesting.

Otherwise, the All-Star Race is tough for us.  We’re not taking the same car to the Open that we’re taking to the 600.  I think we’re taking one of our backup cars.  So, we’ll get some laps on them to shake them down just in case we need them later in the season.

Rob Tiongson :  That’s a good point that you brought up.  Typically, the All-Star Race has been a prelude to the 600.  Now, it’s kind of been an experiment race for the future with radically different cars.  As a driver, is it a fair idea for NASCAR to see the All-Star Race as an experiment for a future package or do you feel it confuses fans?

Landon Cassill :  I think that it’s hard to tell if bringing a new package to the race attracts new fans for that race.  It’s really hard to quantify the return on that investment.  It is costing teams to cut their cars up and make those changes for the sake of one race.  So, I guess there’s other potential agenda items for doing that.

Maybe it’s a bit of R&D for the future generation car, so there’s other ways to return on the investment for changing the format or changing the car.  It does kind of make sense that the All-Star weekend is a good one to change things to see how it works.

Rob Tiongson :  Certainly!  Now, Mother’s Day weekend was during Kansas and I’m sure it was a special time for you and your family, especially for your mom and for your wife Katie.  Do you follow any traditions and what plans did you have in mind for Katie and your family?

Cassill enjoying precious time with his family at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Cassill enjoying precious time with his family at Richmond. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  No major traditions.  My mom got some sweets from us.  I got Katie a couple of presents.  I’ll fly to Columbus, OH where she is with her family right now.

I’m probably going to take the kids for her so she can take off and have a day without kids for Mother’s Day.  That’s what she kind of asked for.  I’ve been traveling a lot lately and I think I was only home for four days for the entire month of April.  It will be nice for me to get there and take a load off.

Rob Tiongson :  There you go!  As a matter of fact, that’s a good gift.  Maybe she’ll return the favor for Father’s Day…

Landon Cassill :  No, cause I think on Father’s Day, you’re supposed to spend the day with your kids.  So, I think that the mothers make out on both ends of it. (laughter)

Rob Tiongson :   (laughs) I see how it goes!  In effect, I think they do.  Although this may be true, y’all race the weekend before, so what the heck?

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) For Father’s Day, I’ll probably get to take my family golfing.  I enjoy when the four of us, me, Beckham, Daphne, and Katie, get on a golf kart and go golfing.  So, that’s probably what I’ll ask for.

Rob Tiongson :  All things considered, May’s a big month for racing especially with the Monaco Grand Prix for F1, the Indianapolis 500 for IndyCar, and your race, the Coca-Cola 600.  Given that, how huge is it to be a part of the pageantry that surrounds this month, and would you ever want to do the Indy/Charlotte double, or any combination in the future?

Gloves and steering wheel! (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Gloves and steering wheel! (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  Oh, man.  It’s very special to be a part of that race weekend.  It is Memorial Day weekend and the day of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, “The Greatest Day in Motorsports.”  I always get up early and watch the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 pre-race and the start of the race.

Then, I head to the race track and start getting ready for my event.  By the time we’re done with the driver’s meeting, I’m watching the tail end of the Indy 500, usually on the big screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  So, that’s definitely a big day and I would certainly love to entertain the idea of running the Indy 500.

Rob Tiongson : I think it’s a great idea.  Chiefly, a lot of NASCAR drivers have tried it in the past such as Kurt Busch most recently.  Speaking of interesting, you made a return to your old stomping grounds with JD Motorsports, including a top-10 at Talladega earlier this month.  What’s it mean to help out JD Motorsports and do you have any upcoming races with them?

Landon Cassill :  It’s always a pleasure to drive for Johnny Davis.  I’d definitely jump at the opportunity to drive for him.  I was really happy to get them a top-10 finish, their second of the season, and their best finish at Talladega in quite a while.  I’m not sure what races I’m going to run, Rob, as I don’t know if they’ve announced what Ross has upcoming on his end but, there’s definitely more races.  Hopefully, I can do more!

Rob Tiongson :   Something I’ve always wondered about, especially with the celebrities that come to the track.  Has there been a moment where you’ve been starstruck by a celebrity at or away from the track?

Landon Cassill :  I met Tom Cruise at the racetrack and that was pretty darn cool.  He was very nice to me and I enjoyed meeting him.  He was very friendly.  Meeting Lance Armstrong was pretty neat too.  They were both very friendly.

Rob Tiongson :  That’s pretty neat you mentioned both.  I just re-watched Days of Thunder for the millionth time.  And Lance happens to live here in Austin.  Up to the present time, what’s an embarrassing moment that you can laugh about that’s happened at the track?

This driver has no regrets. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

This driver has no regrets. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) Man…I’m not sure!  I’m not sure, gosh.  I can’t think of one as I try to not put myself in too many predicaments.  I’m so sorry I don’t have an answer for you!

Rob Tiongson :  In effect, how about an embarrassing thing that you’ve said that you wish you could take back and can laugh seeing on a YouTube clip?

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) I don’t know.  You can probably find something on my Twitter that I would want to take back, but I try to not delete tweets.

Rob Tiongson :  #NoRegretsforLandon!  Prior to Talladega, you and the StarCom Racing team appeared at the New York Auto Show.  On the whole, how helpful was it to be there and did you get any sponsor leads?

Landon Cassill :  I don’t know how many real sponsor leads that we got out of it, but I think that it was definitely good for our brand awareness and it was a wonderful platform.  I would love for them to do it again.

Anytime that you can go to New York and spend time around the people that are there is beneficial for our sport.  It’s a place that I could personally live in and I would love to live there, network there, and live there full-time.  So, I was very pleased and proud to be there.

Rob Tiongson :  We’ve seen some racers tag team for a reality show, like in the Amazing Race with Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi.  With this in mind, would you ever had to do a show like that for fun?  Without delay, which fellow racer would you want to pair up with and why?

Do you suppose that Landon's looking to recruit Paul Menard for NASCAR: Road Rules? (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Do you suppose that Landon’s looking to recruit Paul Menard for NASCAR: Road Rules? (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) I don’t know.  It would probably be fun to do something with Corey LaJoie.  We get along and we could probably do a reality show of some kind.

Rob Tiongson :  Did you watch Road Rules or Real World back in the day?

Landon Cassill :  It would be interesting to do a NASCAR: Road Rules where you’ve got two drivers rooming at a hotel room for 10 races in a row.

Rob Tiongson :  In like manner, can you imagine how awkward would that be, especially if these drivers crashed into each other?

Landon Cassill :  (laughs) It would be very awkward indeed!

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!  Provided that, donate at least $50 and 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 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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