Landon Cassill silenced critics on Friday after wheeling his No. 01 JD Motorsports Chevrolet to an astounding 12th place finish at Darlington Speedway – his career-best at the track given the moniker ‘Too Tough To Tame’ and ‘The Lady in Black’.
However, looking at the big picture, it appears after seven seasons in the NASCAR National Touring Series that Cassill is hitting the acme of his career, and in a matter of weekends, he could be celebrating a few top fives, and top-10 finishes.
Cassill’s relationship with racing was solidified at 10-years-old when he finished second in the Pro Kart Tour at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) – little did he know that was the beginning of a lifetime in Motorsports.
He returned to the Pro Kart Tour the next season, earning a remarkable two national championships, in addition, to winning four International Kart Federation championships – some coming on dirt tracks, and others on pavement.
His karting career continued for two more years, where he racked up a few more state championships, including a handful of victories. He also ventured into a midget car class where he added to his resume with a few more titles in the Newton Kart Klub, located in Newton, Iowa – right around Iowa Speedway.
His breakthrough opportunity occurred when he began racing SK Modifieds at Hawkeye Downs Speedway and joined the ASA Late Model Series (ASALMS) – all while in high school at JeffersonHigh School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
However, his career-making race was at Lake Erie Speedway on June 9, 2006 when he dominated the ASALMS race, and became the youngest winner in the series history at 16-years-old – that record was held until Erik Jones bettered the mark.
He notched is second career ASALMS triumph at South Georgia Motorsports Park – becoming the first competitor to win in both Northern and Southern divisions. Despite posting multiple victories in the ASALMS, he never experienced a championship in the series, but did finish a career-best second in the driver standings, losing to Kelly Bires.
His NASCAR tenure began during the 2006 season when he was inducted into the GM Racing Developmental competition – which was basically a three-stage test that occurred at Caraway Speedway, Nashville Speedway and North Georgia Speedway. The program allowed higher organizations to recognize the up-and-coming talents in racing.
Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) signed Cassill, not to a full-time driving deal, but to an apprenticeship, to learn the ropes. He tested their cars at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and Lakeland Speedway, in addition to helping assist the team’s research and development program.
He made his debut in NASCAR with HMS at Gateway International Speedway during the 2007 season and finished in a dismal, but knowledge-gaining, 32nd position. Memphis International Raceway witnessed him almost secure his first top-10 finish, but he was spun out on the final lap and didn’t clinch the finish he expected.
During his ‘trial run’ with HMS he started six races and finished a best of 18th at Dover International Speedway.
His talent was recognized, and JR Motorsports placed him in their No. 5 for 16 races during the 2008 Nationwide Series season. He captured his first top-10 finish at Nashville Speedway when he finished ninth, and also added a pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to his record.
He concluded 2008 with four top-10 finishes, and also won Rookie of The Year (ROY) honors, and also garnered three top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, driving for Randy Moss Motorsports.
Despite the decent finishes, the developing driver was left ride-less during the 2009 season, forcing his to watch from the sidelines.
However, in 2010 he came back with vengeance, starting six Nationwide Series events, three for JR Motorsports and the other couple with RAB Racing. He also received 16 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with James Finch, TRG Motorsports and Larry Gunselman, finishing 38th in his Cup debut.
Again, in 2011, he didn’t have any stability with a certain organization, but did finish an impressive third in the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, and competed in 32 Sprint Cup events, finishing a career-best 12th at Michigan International Speedway.
Finally, after working his entire career for the opportunity, Cassill was signed to a full-season deal with BK Racing to drive their No. 83 in the Sprint Cup Series. During his rookie season with the organization he finished 31st in the driver standings and just missed winning the ROY honors.
Entering 2012 it seemed BK Racing and Cassill would continue their relationship, however, the deal fell through when they had contract disagreements.
The setback forced Cassill to join forces with Circle Sport, driving the No. 33 for the remainder of the season. He ran mildly, and very quiet, the entire season, finishing well outside the top-30 in the driver standings
Now, in 2014, Cassill is starting to ‘settle in’ with the JD Motorsports and Circle Sport organizations, while developing chemistry, and remaining loyal, all things he’s struggled to achieve in the past.
Finishing 12th in Darlington proves that Cassill is reaching the acme of his career, and with the potential he possesses, it’s possible he could wind up in victory lane, very soon.