Landon Cassill had an up and down day on Saturday.
The Cedar Rapids native’s day began with a hard crash in NASCAR Sprint Cup practice for Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway that destroyed his primary car. The snout on the end of the left rear end housing, which holds the wheel hub in place, detached as Cassill entered Turn 3. A poor weld, Cassill said, resulted in the failure and sent him hard into the outside wall.
The wreck left him admittedly sore and has his Hillman Racing team scrambling to prepare the backup.
“It was a pretty hard hit, (and) I think what made it such a hard hit is because when a tire comes off like that and it takes the entire hub, assembly and everything with it, it rips the brakes out. So I had no brakes,” Cassill said in a phone interview from the track. “Once it swaps ends like that, the only thing to stop you is the wall.
“It’s just a bummer. I’m angry, shocked, all those things. I’m mad it happened, but I’m also not the guy that has to build the cars. The guys in the shop should be mad, everbody should be upset – especially when it’s not a part that we built in our shop. It was something we outsourced.”
The good news out of the wreck is that the backup car is actually a better piece of equipment, Cassill said, but the team was saving it for next week at California.
Because of that, he’ll have to take extra care at a track that’s known for beating and banging in its close quarters.
“It kind of changes the tune for (Sunday’s) race a little bit,” Cassill said. “We’ll really need to take care of our car (Sunday).
“The reason it’s kind of a stress deal is because the backup car is my primary car for intermediate tracks. Performance wise, if the setup lines up the way it should, we probably won’t suffer as much this week as we would’ve next week at California, depending on how this ends up.”
The up part of Cassill’s day came after he strapped into his JD Motorsports No. 01 car for the Nationwide race.
Cassill was competitive all race long, and finished in a solid 12th, leaving him 10th in the driver’s point standings after four races, 46 points behind leader Regan Smith. He said the team brought a front end setup under the rules package all the teams run that the team really likes, but because of limited resources, the option they brought is one they can only use at Bristol and Dover.
Because of that, hopes were high headed into Saturday.
“We honestly came into this weekend with high expectations,” Cassill said. “It’s hard to say we expected a 12th place finish, but we expected that this would be one of our better races, so it’s nice that to do that and not have anything tore up on the car.”
So, all things considered, Cassill came out of Saturday fairly even.
And after missing the last two Sprint Cup races at Phoenix and Las Vegas, he’s happy to be racing Sunday – or Monday, if rain washes out the race – backup car or not.
All that’s left is to rest his sore foot and prepare for 500 laps around the bullring at Bristol.
“I want to get the race in, but if we don’t, it’s an extra day to heal up and not be sore,” Cassill said. “I’m going to get to bed early, ice up my foot and be ready to go for (Sunday).”