May 10, 2014 at 11:26 pm | Print View
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Through 10 races this season, Landon Cassill had Lady Luck on his side.
In the season’s two restrictor plate races this season, he avoided the big wrecks and guided his car to his two best career finishes. But last night at Kansas Speedway, the luck ran out.
The Cedar Rapids native left Kansas with a 42nd place finish after getting caught up in a lap-61 wreck when David Ragan lost control, collected Ryan Truex, then both bounced off the wall and into Cassill.
“I just tried to go low, and it was just too late,” Cassill said. “It’s tough, but we’ve cashed in some pretty good luck over the year. I really don’t have anything to complain about.”
The crew worked hard over the next 100-plus laps in the garage to repair the car and get back out to run a few laps and gain that one spot, which means dollars and points for the team.
Despite the obvious disappointment, both driver and crew remained as upbeat as a person can be when resigned to a fate like that. Cassill gave a laugh and shrugged when asked how they were able to do that.
“It’s just reality,” Cassill said. “We had a really bad start to the race (anyway), the car was extremely loose. We’d actually gotten it tightened up (right before the wreck), and it was fast once we did.”
The weekend as a whole was a little frustrating for the Hillman Racing team.
Cassill said after practice on Saturday that the team has been behind the proverbial eight-ball at the intermediate tracks — classified as the 1 1/2-mile track — so every on-track opportunity was a chance to learn.
“We felt like we learned a lot, even with our mistakes tonight,” Cassill said. “Even with our bad start, we learned a lot tonight.”
With limited resources, the off-week is a blessing for Cassill’s team, if only because it allows them more time to repair the extensive damage to his No. 40 last night at Kansas.
Because the intermediate tracks require a specific package and preparation, Cassill’s crew members will spend the time between last night and the Coca-Cola 600 weekend two weeks from now repairing the car and getting it ready for the longest race of the season.
“We’ll fix this car and run it at Charlotte,” Cassill said. “I feel like we’ve got a pretty good grasp on where we want to go there, based on what we learned here.”
Jeff Gordon would go on to win the race, the 89th of his career. Kevin Harvick, who led the most laps, was second. Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five. Danica Patrick also secured a career-best seventh place finish.
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