Friday afternoon at Richmond Raceway, from within the No. 34 hauler, Landon Cassill took a few minutes to talk with ClosetNASCARFan.com, talking tracks, fitness, his current Front Row Motorsports team, and neck beards.
We started by talking about the previous week’s finish at Darlington Raceway, where he managed to finish on the lead lap, qualifying 31st, and finishing 21st. Had a tire not been cut down, Cassill could have likely had a top 15 finish at the 2017 running of the Southern 500.
Cassill said he looks forward to both Darlington and Richmond because the tires do fall off. Ironically, at the end of the Darlington Race, and the beginning of the Richmond Raceway 2017 Federated Auto Parts 400, tires fell off completely.
But Cassill said the tire fall off played to his driving style.
“I really like to come to Richmond and make sure we take advantage of that,” he said.
Translating Day Practices to Night Races
With both Friday practices in the day time, and all of the Spring Richmond track time during the day time, it’s often hard to get a car setup for the night race at the Richmond short track. But Cassill said you just try to get the car as good as you can.
“Generally speaking, the track changes a lot and [the changes] are definitely a big deal. But if you have a good car today, you generally good at night,” the No. 34 driver said.
Off Track Fitness Challenges
After the longest race of the season back in 2015, Cassill decided he’d get in a quick 14-mile run from Charlotte Motor Speedway to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte.
“That was pretty hard,” he said.
“I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to maybe a different type of challenge.”
Like so many Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, Cassill is serious about his fitness outside the car, and said he would really like to do an ultramarathon someday. An ultramarathon is any running race longer than the traditional marathon length of 26.2 miles.
“I’d probably like to do that with my dad or something,” he said.
Scattered around the infield, leaned up against haulers were probably a dozen road bikes owned by drivers and Cup team members.
A lot of the Cup garage has taken up cycling as a good fitness tool — one of the best ways to mimic the heart rate and endurance needed during a Cup race. Cassill said he’s ridden a bunch with his fellow competitors, but less so this year.
Instead, he’s been pulling out his cyclocross bike — a hybrid combination of a road bike and a mountain bike, made for riding on various different surfaces and conditions.
“My hope is to ride that a lot this winter when the weather gets kind of crappy and wet,” he said.
While he’s never competed in a cyclocross race, he’d really like to try the sport out after the conclusion of the NASCAR Cup season.
“If I can get in decent bike shape, I’d like to do some cyclocross races this winter,” he said.
Cassill admitted he’s done some road bike races, but if he were to do any racing after the season, it’d likely be in the cyclocross format.
Future Wildcard Race
— SiriusXM NASCAR (@SiriusXMNASCAR) August 29, 2017
While the playoffs’ participants have been set for this season, back at the end of August, on Kevin Harvick’s SiriusXM NASCAR radio show, Harvick floated an idea. The idea consisted of having a wildcard race mid-week to fill in any spots for the playoffs that were-points based — the ones that weren’t “win and you’re in.”
Cassill said he thought it was an awesome idea by Kevin Harvick, and suggested maybe it be used as a prelude to the main event at the last race of the regular season.
Sophomore Front Row Motorsports Year
Landon Cassill is now in his second year with Front Row Motorsports and said the best thing about his team is their loyalty.
“The team has dedication for incremental gains,” he said.
“Our team owner, Bob [Jenkins] definitely plays the long game in this sport and definitely knows where this sport is going,” Cassill said.
Cassill continued to praise the FRM owner.
“I just feel like there’s a lot of good long game ideas and he doesn’t make knee-jerk reactions and decisions that that ultimately never get some of these small teams out of the rut of being small teams,” the No. 34 driver said.
In February 2016, NASCAR rolled out a plan for a new ownership structure, awarding 36 Charters that guarantee entry into every points event in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Cassill said FRM owner Bob Jenkins was smart enough to snatch up an extra charter when one was available.
“[He’s] put himself in a position to be pretty attractive to a manufacturer in the future if there were to be a new incoming manufacturer, or if Ford wanted to help us expand into a three car team,” Cassill said.
Cassill admitted he didn’t know what the plans were for the third charter, but said it’s the type of move and forethought that could take Front Row Motorsports to the next level.
Past Team Experiences
Cassill has previously driven for other small Cup teams including BK Racing, Hillman Racing, and Circle Sport. He said Hillman Racing was on a similar trajectory as FRM prior to ownership rule changes by NASCAR. He said FRM’s long game was key.
“BK [Racing] started off strong because of the equipment they bought, but they just kind of perpetually make the same decisions that don’t allow them to grow to be a more succesfull team,” he said.
Cassill said his current owner’s decision making kept FRM healthy and from not going backwards.
Drivers and fans alike are a bit disgruntled with the encumbered wins this year — including Denny Hamlin’s and Joey Logano’s visit to victory lane at Richmond Raceway in the Spring.
“I understand why NASCAR doesn’t want to disqualify people. There’s either a flaw in the process itself, or a flaw in the decision making,” he said.
Even as more news of drivers in and out of rides continues the past few days, Cassill says he thinks the rumors get out of hand, but thinks it is fascinating this year that you have multiple drivers, specifically Kasey Kahne that are free agents.
The No. 34 driver thought it was silly in itself that people were trying to plPace every out of work driver somewhere.
“People are so insistent on these rides [Kahne] could potentially end up in, but this is a guy that since 2004 has made all of the money you can make in the sport, and spent the last six years at Hendrick [Motorsports]. He’s got a kid at home. Maybe he’s tired. He might be thinking that. It doesn’t mean he’s done racing, but nobody would blame him if he took a year off,” Cassill said.
Cassill said maybe Kahne would take it easy in 2018, picking up some Xfinity races here and there, racing some sprint car races, etc.
“All these other things that people have rumored like the GMS ride will come to fruition and he’ll come back then,” Cassill said.
2018 Plans for Landon Cassill
No talk about next season would be complete, without asking the driver their own plans. Cassill said they had not finalized anything at Front Row Motorsports yet, but didn’t expect things to change.
Neckbeard Trading Cards
In case you were wondering what I'm up to today, I'm signing 325 of these super flattering LC Trading Cards: Neckbeard Edition pic.twitter.com/mabCGcPQmc
— landon cassill (@landoncassill) September 6, 2017
Recently on Twitter, the FRM driver tweeted he was autographing a big batch of trading cards for Panini, he deemed the “Neckbeard Edition.”
“Panini somehow they have managed the worst pictures of me to put on their trading cards,” he said.
“I need to negotiate final approval on the pictures because this isn’t the first time they’ve put a non-flattering picture of me on a trading card.”
Cassill said it’s hard to capture a still of him that’s photogenic.
“I see pictures of myself and am like, ‘What the hell was I doing? What’s that face’,” Cassill said with a chuckle.