By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
TALLADEGA, Ala. – After finding himself in the right pack following green flag pit stops, Landon Cassill worked with his Kaulig Racing teammate, finishing third, and pushing A.J. Allmendinger to a win.
Prior to green flag pit stops halfway into the final Stage of the Sparks 300, Cassill was running in the back half of the top-10. Luckily when the entire lead pack pitted, the 33-year-old avoided disaster. Myatt Snider, who had been running with Cassill, spun on pit road after contact with Blaine Perkins.
When the Cedar Rapids, IA native emerged from pit road at Talladega Superspeedway, he was inside the 14-car lead pack. In fact, the No. 10 Voyager Chevrolet Camaro SS was third, behind Allmendinger.
While Sam Mayer, Noah Gragson and others made charges at the lead, Cassill remained loyal to his team. Not in the NASCAR Playoffs, he opted to push Allmendinger, who is in the playoffs.
The leaders split once, with both Austin Hill and Gragson dropping back. That shifted the battle for the lead to be between Allmendinger and Mayer. When the JR Motorsports driver got too far ahead, the Kaulig drivers pounced.
A push from Cassill sent Allmendinger into a photo finish with Mayer. The No. 16 driver prevailed, beating Mayer by 0.015 seconds. Cassill took the checkered flag in third after being boxed in on the closing laps.
“I was wanting that split to happen and I thought that if I found a hole with that backstretch split or even through the tri-oval that it would open itself up for me,” Cassill explained. “I gave AJ that push in the tri-oval and he was able to make his move, but I was boxed in at that point so I couldn’t make anything (happen).
“It’s always good when you can see the leaders at the finish-line though. That last run was just single file and as fast as Xfinity internet. I wanted it to stay single file, drop off as many of these cars to have as small of a pack as we can at the end.”
After qualifying 18th, Cassill was unable to finish inside the top-10 in the two Stages. Though he is not in the playoffs, he could have prevented his teammate’s rivals from scoring additional points.
The third-place finish was Cassill’s fourth top-five finish this season. It was his first since the Spring Talladega race earlier this year. It was also Cassill’s fifth top-five finish in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career.
Cassill remains 13th in points with the top-five finish. However, he is still just nine points ahead of Sheldon Creed as the duo battle to the best non-Playoff driver this season.
Next for the Xfinity Series is the Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on Saturday, October 8, at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel 90.