By Joseph Wolkin – @LandonCassill, a former Hendrick Motorsports developmental driver, has seen his career divert from its original path while driving for underfunded teams. Several years ago, Cassill’s future was looking dim as he was starting and parking for multiple teams at NASCAR’s highest level.
Eventually, Cassill caught a break with Phoenix Racing, and later BK Racing. But the Iowa native was released from both organizations and left with the all too familiar sight of searching for a ride – even if it was not in the best of equipment.
The 25-year-old now drives for underfunded teams in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series. On the Cup side, things have been rough for Cassill driving for Hillman Racing, which is part of Joe Falk’s Circle Sport Racing. Cassill’s No. 40 car has missed two races this season, and they have six finishes of 30th or worse. However, there are some bright sides for this little team, as they have run no worse than 12th at the restrictor plate races this year along with four finishes of 25th and 26th.
But where Cassill’s true success has come this year is startling.
Cassill also competes in the Nationwide Series in the No. 01 Chevrolet on a full-time basis for JD Motorsports. The team frequently runs with blank quarter panels due to a lack of funding. This year, he took over the ride from veteran @MikeWallace01. Wallace was driving the car for several years, but Johnny Davis opted to go in another direction late in the off-season.
“Well, I drove for JD Motorsports last year and they resigned me for this year,” Cassill said this past weekend in Pocono.
This year, the team has been able to outrun drivers who are racing for larger organizations, such as Roush-Fenway Racing’s @driverryanreed and Richard Petty Motorsports’ @DakodaArmstrong. Entering Michigan, Cassill sits 11th in the Nationwide Series points standings with two top-10 finishes – that’s more than @dylankacing (Dylan Kwasniewski) (10th in points) has to this point and it is equal to those which @Brendan62 (seventh in points) has tallied up thus far.
His success shouldn’t be shocking though. With Wallace, the team was racing around the 20th position on a weekly basis. However, Cassill has carried this little team on his shoulders, and it is starting to pay off against some of the division’s largest teams.
“It’s very difficult against them, but we’re making things happen,” he said.
In nine of the 12 races in 2014, Cassill has finished 21st or better. His best run was at Iowa Speedway last month as he ran inside of the top-10 for the majority of the race, and even inside of the top-five at one point. Each week, Cassill has been moving up with the team improving as he battles the powerhouses of Richard Childress Racing, Roush-Fenway Racing and Turner-Scott Motorsports, continuing to get the most out of the little amount of funding they have.
Joseph Wolkin is a Popular Speed Development Journalist
EMAIL JOSEPH AT firstname.lastname@example.org