By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Landon Cassill may not have ended up with a career-best finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but he had arguably his best race of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. The 26-year old driver started the day from the 28th-position, but his car wasn’t handling to his liking as he didn’t make up much ground on the first run of the day.
After the team’s first pit stop, Cassill radioed to crew chief Donnie Wingo, “You definitely helped me, but just a little bit. Need more.”
Wingo would continue to dial in the No. 38 Snap Fitness Ford Fusion, and Cassill would continue to take the car further up through the field. By the mid-way point of the 500 lap slug-fest, Cassill was a solid top-20 car. Then during a lap 259 caution, Wingo and Cassill decided to roll the dice in hopes of turning a good day into a great day.
While the field hit pit road, Cassill stayed on the track and inherited the lead. Cassill would lead the next 20 laps, as he incredibly held off Carl Edwards for several laps under green to keep the top-spot. Finally Edwards, who was on fresh tires, would work around Cassill, but the No. 38 Ford stayed in the top-10 for a huge chunk of the remainder of the race.
With less than 40 laps to go, things began to head south for Cassill. After Dale Earnhardt Jr. roughed up Ty Dillon, Cassill also slammed into the side of Dillon’s wounded car, which caused Dillon to spin out and ripped sheet metal on Cassill’s car as well.
Cassill would have to pit for repairs as his side-skirt was sticking out to the side. Cassill would try to battle back, but would fade to finish 22nd. Still, this was by far the most impressive full-race outing of Cassill’s seven-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. After the race, Cassill admitted that the incident with Dillon was his fault, and he stressed the importance of track position.
“Track position is so important,” Cassill explained. “We were good enough to keep it for a while, but we weren’t good enough to drive back up through there, but I don’t think anybody was. You just needed to have good track position all day, and we had it most of the day and I had a little tangle with the 14 and it was just a hard racing deal. I kind of went over my head a little bit.”
Cassill and Front Row Motorsports will look to build momentum from this impressive performance as the series heads to Richmond, which is a track that Cassill told Tribute Racing a couple of weeks ago that he could notch a top-10 finish at. After Richmond the Series will head to Talladega, where Cassill notched his career-best finish of fourth back in the fall of 2014.