NASCAR

Cassill replaces former champ at Phoenix

Landon Cassill
Landon Cassill (center) has driven and tested for Hendrick Motorsports in the past.
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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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Landon Cassill will take over driving duties for Phoenix Racing beginning at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.

STP 400

Prerace coverage from Kansas begins June 5 at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

 

Cassill, 21, replaces 1988 NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, who started the first four races of the season in the No. 09 Chevrolet.

“Hopefully, I can do good enough to keep the car in the top 35 (in points) and even in the top 25,” Cassill said. “To think that this is my first actual opportunity to run the same car each week and race it to the end is cool. Once again, Finch has given me the chance to resurrect my career. He expects you to run well. But that’s good. That’s why we all come to race.”

Despite competing with cars and engines from Hendrick Motorsports, who supplies Phoenix Racing, the best result Elliott could muster was 12th at Daytona. His average finish during that span is 23.5.

Originally, the team planned to run the former champion in 18 races.

Cassill has been a development/test driver for Hendrick Motorsports for the last five seasons and is very familiar with the equipment. He admits that starting-and-parking in Cup races was a means to keeping visible and relevant throughout the process. He’s grateful that a variety of owners that helped him stay in the game, particularly the Germains who knew this day would come.

“Finally, the relationships and the work is going to pay off for once,” Cassill said. “It‘s like ‘We’re going to pick you because you have start and parked, you have qualified well and you can compete, now you can race.’

"I’m very thrilled (to race Hendrick cars). I’ve had a lot of laps in their equipment. And I’m very comfortable in it. I know the kind of stuff that they’re trying and I think it’s going to be good.”

With Rydex/Security Benefit coming on board as a sponsor, Phoenix Racing intends on running the full race with Cassill behind the wheel. It will be a great opportunity to see what the youngster is capable of considering mechanical failures have been listed for all of his 19 career Cup starts with the exception of running Richmond last year for TRG when Cassill finished 33rd.

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