Opinion: Landon Cassill remains an extremely under-rated driver

Photo By: SaJorden Miller / Kickin' The Tires

By Sarah Handy, Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — If you watched the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season-finale Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, you may have heard ‘Landon Cassill finishes 15th in Morgan Shepherd’s No. 89 Chevrolet.’ On the other hand, maybe you didn’t tune in and this is news to you.

I know some of you are thinking, wait, did I read that correctly, did you say Morgan Shepherd’s car? I sure did, and this is one of the many times where Cassill for some reason in my opinion, remains an extremely under-rated driver in NASCAR.

He is no stranger to pulling off solid finishes in what many consider mediocre equipment. In 2019, Cassill made 17 starts in the NXS. Some of those starts were for Johnny Davis and his JD Motorsports organization, others were for Morgan Shepherd’s team.

Cassill went on to earn two top-10 and five top-20 finishes behind a Johnny Davis machine in 2019.

Very solid finishes.

In 2018, he made five NXS starts with three of those being for Davis. He walked away that season earning two top-15 finishes when he finished 14th twice.

Cassill has taken Shepherd’s ride and out qualified drivers with top-notch equipment like we saw at Las Vegas last year when he wheeled the No. 89 to a 9th place starting spot on the grid. That very starting spot out dueled Noah Gragson, Ryan Truex, and Riley Herbst to name a few.

Those are drivers in JR Motorsports and Joe Gibbs equipment but I’m sure many didn’t realize he even did such.

Why do I say this? Because unfortunately that event saw him only turn 20 of the 200 scheduled laps due to an overheating issue. He was credited with a 36th place finish.

That was one of an overall seven events in 2019 that Cassill was behind the wheel of  Shepherd’s car and qualified within the Top-20. Again under-rated considering what he’s working with.

Quite impressive and you can’t convince me otherwise.

The No. 89 team remains an extremely low budget team that would see other finishes like the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native produced at Homestead on a more consistent basis if they had sponsorship.

Cassill told me at Homestead last November that Cindy and Morgan (Shepherd) were trying to find sponsorship for 2020 and he would get behind the wheel again if he can.

“If that’s something I can fit into (his schedule) I would love to do it. I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot this year,” said Cassill in November.

Overall, he’s seemed okay with driving for what would be considered smaller teams when I’ve spoke to him.

He has stated he’s been content with helping them improve their programs, this goes for StarCom Racing, JD Motorsports or Morgan Shepherd’s team.

He was very happy with his finish at Homestead in November, telling me, “It was great. We ran better then I expected. I was pleased with how the car qualified (13th).  Thought it could’ve been even better than that, but I was pleasantly surprised with our speed in the race. We were legitimately a 12th to 15th place car all day long. We had a good solid race.”

If that No. 89 car can find sponsorship to run full events in 2020. I can almost guarantee you won’t see anyone else behind the wheel but Cassill.

Mark my words now, if they can run full races this season, that car will earn a finish within’ the Top-10.

Cassill’s 2020 plans are still unknown, with Quinn Houff now piloting the No. 00 for StarCom Racing full-time through the next two seasons and even JD Motorsports recently announced their driver lineup this season with no mention of Cassill.

Rumors have swirled that he could run the No. 99 for StarCom Racing on a part-time basis but nothing has been confirmed.

When I look at the situation, it’s tough to watch a guy with so much potential remain on the outside looking in. Over the last 10 NASCAR Cup Series seasons, Cassill has competed in every Daytona 500 except four.

Time will tell what Cassill’s future race plans are and I will be sure to keep you all updated.

 

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