Auto Racing

Cedar Rapids native Landon Cassill wants to 'keep racing'

NASCAR driver will race in sixth Daytona 500 on Sunday

NASCAR Cup Series driver Landon Cassill speaks to the media during the media day for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday. (USA Today Sports)
NASCAR Cup Series driver Landon Cassill speaks to the media during the media day for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday. (USA Today Sports)

Landon Cassill would love to move back to Cedar Rapids and sell cars with his father.

He thinks he’d be pretty good at it, too.

He’d also enjoy coming home and giving back to Hawkeye Downs, his local racing track.

But ...

“I want to keep racing.”

Sometimes it’s that simple.

The 29-year-old Cassill, a Cedar Rapids Jefferson graduate who took his first turn in a NASCAR race at 17, still has plenty to give the sport of auto racing — and plenty to prove.

He qualified last Sunday for his sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500, the “Super Bowl” of stock car racing in this country.

That, he said, never gets old.

“It just brings an energy that you can’t get used to,” he said Wednesday in a phone interview from the Daytona International Speedway press box, looking over the start/finish line.

Although he’s still under 30, this is Cassill’s 10th season racing, at least part time, in the Cup Series. He has started 288 Cup races the past nine years. He feels like a veteran “just by the way I know my way around,” but said there also is a lot that’s still new.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in this sport,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I haven’t done in this sport.”

He was the Nationwide Series (now Xfinity Series) Rookie of the Year in 2008 and finished fourth in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in 2014. He’s finished 12th in the Daytona 500 twice.

But he’s never been part of one of the established teams — or what he called the “the homes of technology, not the buyers of technology” — and he has yet to win a race in the Cup or Xfinity series.

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“There are times I’ve scratched my head and asked ‘why am I doing this,’” he said. “But I snap out of that pretty quick.

“When you look at it through an optimistic lens and not a cynical lens, you see all the opportunities. You just have to have a positive outlook on it.”

Cassill is convinced he still has plenty in the tank, so to speak, and a lot to learn. He noted his wife often points out, when learning a new game with family and friends, Cassill will “play until it’s not fun” anymore.

“Nothing is fun until you’re good at it,” he said with a laugh.

The offseason can be difficult for drivers like Cassill and fellow Cedar Rapidian Joey Gase, who needs to race his way into Sunday’s 500 in one of Thursday’s Gander RV Duels. Cassill is back with StarCom racing, a team he joined last year. He said they showed interest in retaining him last summer and negotiations got serious in the fall. He signed a new deal in December.

“I’ve had a lot of security,” he said about his offseason. “It definitely gives you a little different feeling.”

But, like all drivers, he still has to help secure some sponsorship to ease the financial burden.

“It still takes sponsorship to keep these things rolling,” he said.

But he likes where he’s at. StarCom Racing, founded in 2017 and led by former Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope, has two cars in the Cup Series. Cassill drives the 00 Camaro.

“Their vision for their team is to build a successful business and a successful racing team,” he said.

Cassill is happy to be along for that ride.

“I just have a love of the sport,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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