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Fender To Fender: An Exclusive Interview With Landon Cassill

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This week our featured interview series Fender To Fender focuses on Landon Cassill.

Cassill is in the midst of running the full-season Sprint Cup Series schedule for Hillman Racing, as well as running the full-season schedule in the Nationwide Series for JD Motorsports. Cassill is becoming quite the fun underdog story to watch, because he has been finding ways to get respectable finishes on days where his equipment doesn’t quite match his abilities behind the wheel.

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Cassill was gracious enough to take time out to talk with Rubbings Racing about a slew of topics including banana consumption and Thassaphobia. Also, you’ll learn why a Lowe’s gift card would be the ultimate gift for the 25-year-old driver.

Toby Christie: You’ve been doing a lot, with very little this year. How’s it been going?

Landon Cassill: It’s been good. It’s been good. We’ve had a good season.

TC: In 2006 you signed a Hendrick Motorsports contract, but after a few races with JR Motorsports you were gone. What happened?

LC: Yeah, we just were a little bit of a victim of the sponsor reshuffles back in 2008. My National Guard sponsorship was shifted over to Jeff Gordon’s cup car. And I had some sponsorship from Unilever with the Hellmann’s and Klondike and Ragu deal that ended up having to get shifted to Brad Keselowski when he lost the NAVY sponsorship. It kind of put me as the odd man out, but I’ve been able to be around since then and that’s what’s important.

TC: And you’re part of a talented youth movement that is sweeping the sport. Of all the young guns you’re riding around, who’s going to be your stiffest competition for years to come?

LC: Well there’s a lot of young drivers that are good. My goal right now is to focus on myself, and to focus on my own career and to be here for another 20 years.

TC: You know what, you’re actually a very popular under-funded driver. You’ve got people hugging you in the garage area, what do your fans mean to you?

LC: It’s tremendous. The support is tremendous. I feel like I have a really core group of followers on twitter, and fans at a lot of the race tracks that I’ve seen over the years. There’s — at every track I go to — there [are] fans that I see at every race, and it’s great to be able to connect with them.

TC: What about your career trajectory? Where do you go from here?

LC: I’m just trying to step-by-step, elevate each team I’m with to the next level. Right now I’m with JD Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, and we’ve seen success this year that they haven’t seen before. We’ve been able to elevate our performance and communication to the next level, and the same goes to my Cup team with Hillman Racing. Just step-by-step improving our budget, and our race cars and our team all together.

TC: A lot of drivers at the local level never get a shot at the NASCAR National Series level. Who is someone you raced with on the local level, that you’d like to see get a shot?

LC: I think Bryan Clauson is one that sticks out in my mind. He’s a good friend of mine that just kind of had the same things happen to him that happened to me, and he wasn’t able to come out the other end. He’s doing well for himself though. Still racing USAC and wins a lot of races.

TC: If you weren’t a race car driver what line of work would you be in?

LC: I’m not really sure. I grew up in the car business in Iowa, and so that’s probably — it’s a business I love, and I’d love to be a part of it someday anyways.

TC: So no matter what you’re going to be around cars?

LC: Yeah, yeah [laughter], more than likely. Yep.

TC: What’s the biggest bone-head move you’ve made behind the wheel of a race car?

LC: Man, I try to put the past away on that stuff.

TC: So nothing comes to your mind, where you totally face-palmed it?

LC: Just face-palm them, yeah. Forget them and move on.

TC: This one doesn’t have to be race related, but I guess it can be, what’s your biggest fear?

LC: Um, I don’t know. I’m not sure if I’m scared of very much.

TC: No spiders? Snakes?

LC: No, I’m not really scared of that stuff. No, I don’t know. I can’t really think of one.

TC: I guess it’s good to be a race car driver who isn’t scared of anything.

LC: I think my biggest fear is not having anything to do, that’s my biggest fear.

TC: So fear of boredom?

LC: Yeah.

TC: Some drivers are great at qualifying. Others are good at getting more out of a car over a long green-flag run. What is something you feel you’re superior at behind the wheel?

LC: I’ve always gotten a lot of credit for being a good qualifier. That’s kind of how I made my spot in the Cup Series, by qualifying cars that weren’t locked into the field, by making the race in them. So that’s probably my strong point, and I guess what has got me the most opportunities.

TC: I remember the Landon Cassill Qualifying Challenge on iRacing.

LC: Yeah it was a great event, it was a lot of fun.

TC: Do you still do a lot of work with iRacing?

LC: I haven’t done much lately. I’ve been pretty absorbed into a house renovation right now that’s lasted almost a year. My wife and I are building a new house.

TC: How’s everything going there with married life? Bickering yet?

LC: [laughter] Well, it’s married life, and it’s wonderful. But I love my wife, and we’re enjoying a new life together, and we’re ready to get into a new house.

TC: 50 years from now, how do you want the racing community to remember the career of Landon Cassill?

LC: Hopefully I’ve earned their respect. Hopefully I can walk through this garage one day after I’ve retired the same way someone like Ken Schrader walks through. You know where there’s a mutual respect among the officials, the other drivers, crew members that have worked with him, owners that have employed him. I’d like to have won a lot of races and championships, but more importantly I’d like to be welcomed here and respected.

TC: I usually end with that question, but I just talked with your teammate Jeffrey Earnhardt, how is it working with him?

LC: He’s great. He’s a good young kid. He has a great name behind him, and he’s not going to back down. He’s not getting any hand outs from anybody, and he’s willing to work for it.

TC: And he told me — correct me if I’m hearing it wrong — but he said you keep a banana in your car?

LC: Uh, yeah, yeah. I typically eat a banana or two during a race.

TC: So you just keep it under the seat? Or how does that work?

LC: We usually tape it to the leg boards. It’s pretty good fuel for me.

TC: So back in the day, David Pearson would tape bubble to his dash, you tape bananas?

LC: Yeah pretty much [laughter].

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About Toby Christie

Toby Christie is the Senior Writer for Rubbings Racing. He has been watching NASCAR since 1993, and has covered the sport as a media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the NMPA. Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, subpar guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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