2020 was a rough season for Landon Cassill.
After making at least 29 NASCAR Cup Series starts every season from 2011-19, Cassill was only able to put together a four-race deal with Morgan Shepherd’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team in 2020 — all start and parks.
His fortunes began to change, however, as he signed a deal to drive full time for JD Motorsports in the 2021 Xfinity Series season. In that year, Cassill recorded six top-15 finishes in 32 starts.
Cassill then caught his big break in 2022, as he was announced as the driver for Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 car with sponsorship primarily covered by Voyager, a cryptocurrency company. Kaulig was a winning team that had combined to win seven Xfinity races among three different drivers in the year prior. For a driver that had spent the majority of his career with lesser equipment and underfunded teams, a full season in Kaulig’s No. 10 car marked a huge opportunity.
And Cassill was appreciative of all of it.
“It’s awesome,” Cassill told Frontstretch. “I mean, I love racing full time. And obviously this is a completely different type of racing than I’ve done for the majority of my career. To me, [racing with Kaulig] is more just like a new challenge, and I’ve really enjoyed it.
“Just racing with this caliber of equipment and team, the number of different layers to the organization between management, engineering and technical wise, it’s just an entirely different operation.”
Cassill was paired with teammates AJ Allmendinger and Daniel Hemric in his debut season for Kaulig. Allmendinger is now a 15-time winner in the series, while Hemric won the 2021 championship with a win at Phoenix Raceway. The trio has a close bond with each other, as shown when Hemric and Cassill went out on the frontstretch to celebrate Allmendinger’s win at Talladega Superspeedway two weekends ago.
“Yeah, I mean, those guys are awesome,” Cassill said. “We all have a lot in common, and we support each other really well.”
Unfortunately for Cassill, his championship hopes were ended early in his debut season at Kaulig. He entered the regular season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway 19 points above the playoff cut line, but a mechanical failure allowed Ryan Sieg to take the final playoff spot on points. Nevertheless, Cassill remains determined to maximize the remaining races of the 2022 season.
“It’s just a matter of going in and winning and continuing to maximize what we can and support my teammates,” Cassill said. “And maybe step outside the box and see what we can do with these cars to make them go faster and just get the best results I can.”
Cassill expressed excitement in returning to Martinsville Speedway and Phoenix Raceway at the end of the year. After all, Cassill scored a career-best performance in an overtime finish at Martinsville in April.
“Going back to Martinsville, it’s exciting, we finished second there during the spring,” Cassill said. “Going back to Phoenix is going to be really good because I felt like I ran well there, and it could only be better.”
Even with missing the playoffs, there is a lot for Cassill to be proud of in 2022. In 176 Xfinity starts prior to this year, Cassill had only recorded one top five and 14 top-10 finishes. In 29 starts with Kaulig, Cassill has scored four top fives and 11 top-10 finishes. Statistically, it has been one of the best years of his career.
And, after making only two Cup Series starts between 2020-21, Cassill returned to the Cup Series in 2022 with a part-time schedule for Spire Motorsports. The highlight of his year on the Cup side came at Daytona International Speedway in August, as he was one of the few drivers to dodge the Big One when it started to rain in turn 1. Cassill ran as high as third in the final 16 laps before crossing the stripe in fourth.
“Yeah, it was awesome,” Cassill said. “I mean, feeling like I really almost had a shot at winning it, even though those two RCR [Richard Childress Racing] cars being teamed up made it difficult. It’s cool to have those moments, and I feel like the team at Spire [Motorsports] was really excited about that.”
That finish tied his best in the Cup Series, as he also finished fourth at Talladega in October 2014. Cassill said those finishes are among the greatest moments in his career.
“Those finishes are definitely up there,” Cassill said. “I feel like racing my way into the Daytona 500 in 2014 and 2015 are two of my greatest moments. Those just came at such crucial times in my career. Those events meant the world to me, and I’ll never forget those moments.”
Despite financial uncertainty surrounding primary sponsor Voyager, it was announced a week ago that Cassill will return to Kaulig for the 2023 season. For him, the goal for 2023 is simple.
“I mean, I don’t plan on doing anything different,” Cassill said. “Take another shot at trying to win races and a championship.”
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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