Fender To Fender Interview Series

Fender to Fender: An Exclusive Interview with Landon Cassill

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Landon Cassill is in his second season racing for Michael Kohler and Bill Woehlemann’s owned StarCom Racing with Derrike Cope as their Team Manager. Cassill who piloted both the No. 00 and No. 99 Chevrolet’s last season in 29 of 36 races is behind the wheel of the No. 00 again this season but on a full-time basis.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Cassill before All Star weekend began at Charlotte Motor Speedway. See what Cassill had to say about being back with StarCom, the Xfinity Series, Iowa Speedway and more.

Sarah Handy: You’re back at StarCom this season, has it been great to return to the same team you were with last year, as far as the communication and knowing one another?

Landon Cassill: Yeah, I mean I definitely prefer the continuity over the greener grass. I’ve kind of always tried to be that way in my career, I feel like that’s probably extended the life of my career quite a way and just being able to build equity in the people that you work with. I appreciate the value that the folks at StarCom Racing have put into that and typically it would take a lot from me to want to jump from one place to another.

SH: You’ve had some solid finishes in the top-25/top 30 this season. Do you guys feel there’s some tracks coming up that would produce some solid finishes?

LC: I mean we’re getting into a pretty challenging part of the schedule; you know we really like the short tracks; we’ve done well at short tracks with the 750-horsepower package. We’ve just recently found some speed; at Kansas we had some good qualifying speed, but we’ve got to find a good race balance for it. I think the timing is good here with the two Charlotte weekends, two race weekends in a row, same track to work on that race balance for this 550 package. Even though we’ve got two completely different cars both races. We need that extra time to work on our race balance. If we can get out of Charlotte and get to Pocono with a good race balance for the 550 package it’ll make for a better summer.

SH: As a smaller team are you pretty much in your own race with one another? Obviously, you want to win, and run towards the front.

LC: A little bit, I mean you kind of have to identify with your goals individually on the weekend and I would think for most small teams we can probably each pick out a couple other teams that we’d like to outrun on the weekend. The ultimate way to accomplish that is to just focus inward on your own program. Any team on this side of the garage can come up with examples where they’ve shot themselves in the foot. Ultimately if you can eliminate those mistakes, you’ll accomplish your goals and who you want to beat on the racetrack.

SH: You guys have brought some cool sponsors on board last year, with being a small team with companies like Mane N’ Tail. That must be pretty cool to bring a company that huge on board a team like StarCom?

LC: Mane N’ Tail is pretty cool; they’ve been in racing for a while so there no strangers to the sport or the Cope’s. It’s been a pleasure to work with them they’ll be on the car at Pocono, so I’m excited about that.

SH: What is something that you would say the fans watching on TV or in the stands don’t realize about the smaller teams?

LC: I think the people just really don’t realize what the difference in tools and manpower between the small teams and a big team. It doesn’t even really have as much to do with talented people. I think some of the people on my team are just as talented as anybody at Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, but you know as a team that’s brand new they have to develop the tools and add to what they own add to what they have over time to reach that level of an organization.

SH: You’ve been around the series for a while, you must have at least one favorite track if not more than one?

LC: I try not to pick favorites (laughs).

SH: There’s going to be some changes to the schedule, how do you feel about those changes and do you think as a driver there should be more short tracks?

LC: I would love more short tracks; I think everyone is pretty optimistic about the schedule changes. I think that people would definitely love to see more short tracks. I think more then anything the sport just has to find the balance between flexibility to be able to respond to the fans needs and demands but also stability for the venues that are risking huge amounts of real estate and money to be able to house a race. There’s a balance there, I think over the last five to ten years some of these tracks probably have had too much stability when it comes to the TV money that’s coming in and putting in the effort it actually takes to fill the seats. It’s probably going to change over the next couple of years. NASCAR does a good job of incentivizing the track and putting people into the seats.

SH: I’m going to shift to the Xfinity Series a little bit, you had the top-10 at Talladega with JD Motorsports. You seem to have a really good relationship with Johnny Davis. If you had the opportunity to run more races this season for him would you jump at the opportunity?

LC: Oh yeah, especially for Johnny, I’d do anything for him all he has to do is call.

SH: I have a question about Iowa, any chance that you’re going to race there again soon?

LC: I’ve been talking to my hometown track in Hawkeye downs, trying to find a good weekend for me to go race there. I want to race a legends car on quarter mile at Hawkeye downs.

SH:  You must have a large hometown presence there?

LC: I do (laughs) but I need to foster that support.

SH: I remember a time on Twitter there was the Hire Landon hashtag. Everyone was mentioning the different series and you said you’d be open to anything. Say a truck series opportunity came about, would you still jump in the truck?

LC: Oh, for sure! I would love too. I think there’s some really good truck teams out there. I’d love to go race for wins and race for a Championship. I think you know if a team called and wanted me to do it, I would love to jump at the opportunity. Obviously, my focus right now is this Cup car at StarCom Racing, so anything I do I’d have to have their permission, but you know I think they have seen the value in getting as many laps as possible for me.

SH: Before I ask my last question, I had a fan question submitted on Twitter from a fan named Jonathan. He asked what your time was like back in the day at Jr. Motorsports?

LC: That was interesting, it was definitely a learning experience for me. I was probably really at the time didn’t know a lot about how the sport worked and I was learning a lot from Hendrick Motorsports and from testing. I think that Jr. Motorsports was going through a really unique transition as well. They had just sort of been absorbed by Hendrick Motorsports, well not necessarily absorbed by Hendrick Motorsports but were changing quite a bit, so, you know I think that I really appreciate that time in my life because I appreciate the relationship and the foundation it laid for me to have a relationship with Dale Jr. That’s a relationship that has yielded results from me on and off the track over my entire career in many different ways.

SH: My last question has to do with the Coca-Cola 600 next weekend. It’s a very grueling race. What are your thoughts on the race and Charlotte in general?

LC: It’s just a hard, long race. It’s a tough weekend because it’s a little weird schedule you know, practice and qualify on Thursday, you don’t do anything on Friday, you’re home so you kind of have to manage your home life, distractions, at the same time that you’re trying to put together a race weekend, like I said on top of that it’s the hardest race of the season. This is a tough track, especially when the sun goes down, and I feel like we’ve struggled at Kansas with our balance so we’re going to be very aware of our balance when the track cools off for the 600.

SH: The 600 was the race that you got out of the car and ran to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, you think you’d ever do that again?

LC: I’d love too, some variation of that.

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About Sarah Handy

Sarah is going into her third year covering NASCAR for Rubbings Racing as well as helping run their Social Media platforms. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Sarah is an avid racing fan as well as a fan of the major New England sports teams. She is currently studying Public Relations and Marketing at SNHU with plans to move to North Carolina after graduation. Sarah also enjoys visiting her home track of NHMS each year, reading, running and photography.

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