Landon Cassill is becoming somewhat of a journeyman.
Ok, hold on. Maybe journeyman isn’t the best word to use in this situation. A journeyman is defined as an experienced and competent but undistinguished worker. Cassill is only 22-years-old. However, he does fill the competent and undistinguished requirements of the definition, so I’m going to keep that tag on him.
The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native has already left his footprints all over the NASCAR landscape though just not quite in the biggest or most notable way possible. Cassill first broke into NASCAR when he signed a contract with monstrous Hendrick Motorsports back in 2006. He began his career there mainly testing the new Car of Tomorrow and acting as a research and development driver.
He finally got his first shot at a NASCAR sanctioned race in 2007 when he made his first Nationwide Series start at Gateway International Raceway, but truly started to lay some groundwork in 2008. Not only did Cassill score three top-10 Truck Series, but in only 19 Nationwide starts split between Hendrick affiliates JR Motorsports and Phoenix Racing he captured five top-10 finishes and took home the 2008 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year award.
He actually had a few chances at some race wins that year too, only to be taken out with a handful of laps left in the race, ala Jeff Gordon at Martinsville earlier this season.
Despite Cassill’s success in ’08, he was only picked to run a handful of races in 2009 and found himself wondering where he would end up after Hendrick Motorsports essentially folded its developmental driver program.
Cassill was able to use his ties with Phoenix Racing to work his way into his first Sprint Cup ride in 2010 and ended up bouncing around between Phoenix Racing, TRG Motorsports, and Gunselman Motorsports essentially as a start-and-park driver due to the lack of sponsorship between those three teams. He was again unsure of his plans for the 2011 season, but was able to secure a ride in the season opening Nationwide race at Daytona International Speedway and finished an impressive 3rd by teaming up with race winner and Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart.
This helped Cassill once again land a Sprint Cup ride with Germain Racing for three races before eventually coming back to Phoenix Racing for 32 races. This time around though, Phoenix Racing was able to run Cassill for a majority of the races in 2011 and he put his best foot forward with a 12th place finish in the June race at Michigan International Speedway. It was a hard earned 12th place finish with no fuel mileage gimmicks or late race craziness, just purely solid driving by Cassill, and that finish still stands as his career best in Sprint Cup to this day.
After the solid season Cassill provided to Phoenix Racing in 2011, getting them into the top-35 in owner points which is critical for underfunded teams, his hard work wasn’t quite rewarded as he was not re-signed to allow former Cup champion Kurt Busch to assume the ride. This once again left Cassill without a solid ride for the upcoming 2012 season.
It seemed that Cassill was set to sign a part-time deal with underfunded Front Row Motorsports early in 2012, but in a sudden change of events, he scraped the deal and signed with unknown BK Racing, a fledgling team that acquired the assets from a fairly successful Red Bull Racing team that was forced to close at the end of the 2011 season.
This move seemed crazy at the time because the team had sprung up out of nowhere and had only a few weeks to get cars ready for the Daytona 500. But now, Cassill is beginning to look like a genius by turning down the Front Row contract.
For the first time in his young career, Cassill has a sense of security. He is set to run the full 2012 season with BK Racing and with a full-time sponsor in Burger King. Though the team is unproven and not extremely competitive yet, Cassill is once again taking midlevel equipment and getting results. With a pair of top-20 finishes so far this season, including a season best 18th place finish this past weekend at Charlotte, Cassill has his number 83 car solidly in the top-35 in owner points and he couldn’t more pleased.
“So happy for our finish last night in the 600. That’s a really long one. “, said Cassill via Twitter shortly after the race Sunday night.
So as the experience mounts for Cassill, it is already easy to see that he is well traveled and extremely underrated. If this guy ever gets in some competitive equipment I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a Sprint Cup race winner.
Only time will tell for this young journeyman.
Statistical information obtained through Fox Sports and NASCAR.com.