NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Why Is Landon Cassill’s Cup Return Important?

It’s always nice to see a familiar face return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Last weekend, we saw the return of Reed Sorenson. This time around, Landon Cassill will be back in a Cup car for the first time since Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The #HireLandon campaign appears to have worked. In the social media era, this tactic might be one other drivers try to copy as the hunt for jobs and sponsorship becomes increasingly difficult.

Now that Cassill has signed on for two events with StarCom Racing, he needs to prove why the team should keep him around for the rest of the 2018 Cup season. The team isn’t playing games, letting Jeffrey Earnhardt go after a series of mediocre performances to start the year.

Since StarCom has a charter, which it is leasing from Richard Childress Racing for the year, this deal could be what Cassill has been waiting for.

Meanwhile, NASCAR continues to adjust its rule packages based on the ever-changing climate in the garage. That means more conversations are being had about what to do with teams failing inspection. The increasingly high number of pre-qualifying inspection failures is alarming, with 13 cars not even taking a qualifying lap at Auto Club Speedway this past weekend.

Sure, NASCAR’s new tech inspection system is strict. But that’s the way things should be, right?

Have a question for next week’s NASCAR Mailbox? Tweet me at @JosephNASCAR or email me at Joseph.Wolkin@gmail.com!

Q: Why is it important that Landon Cassill is coming back to the Cup Series? – Jason S., Charlotte

A: Cassill is one of the most likable drivers in NASCAR. He’s honest, outgoing and shows a lot of personality.

He’s a great guy to have in the sport, and it was a little shocking none of his former sponsors opted to stick with him and move to another team for this year. While his on-track numbers decreased in 2017 from 2016, he certainly has shown he can make the most out of the little equipment he’s been given over the past few seasons.

Look back to when Cassill drove Hillman Racing’s No. 40 car in 2014 and 2015. The team shouldn’t have even been close to finishing in the top 20, but he was able to propel the organization into the upper portion of the field on multiple occasions.

With Cassill’s social media prowess, he stands out amongst many of his peers. For a mid-level driver, 75-plus thousand Twitter followers aren’t too shabby. His interaction with fans has elevated popularity, and that could certainly help the start-up team he’s with.

StarCom could use a boost, too.

Earnhardt clearly wasn’t fitting in with the team. He sits 33rd in the standings, the lowest of anyone who has run all five Cup races this year. With an average finish of 31.4, he simply wasn’t getting the job done.

Critics might say this team only ran two races last year with veteran Derrike Cope behind the wheel. But crew chief Tony Furr and Cope have high expectations after having an entire offseason to prepare the No. 00.

Cassill is a solid pick for them. However, he won’t stun anyone at Martinsville Speedway or Texas Motor Speedway. You might even see him struggle a bit since the veteran hasn’t raced since November.

So what can you expect out of him?

A nice, consistent run that will give the team a second opinion as to what it is missing in order to go fast. Martinsville is one of Cassill’s best tracks, recording five top 25s in 15 starts. A top 25 would certainly suffice for this team. With Martinsville serving as an equalizer since few aerodynamics are needed, expect him to improve upon Earnhardt’s results in this car.

Cassill just seems to get it when it comes to fan interaction. He’s the perfect fit to help build this team.

Q: Should NASCAR increase penalties for failing pre-qualifying inspection? – Victoria C., Los Angeles

A:  This situation is certainly a tough one. It’s an issue NASCAR didn’t see itself getting into this year.

Teams have always failed pre-qualifying inspection. However, this trend isn’t NASCAR’s fault. Less than 40 cars on the entry list each week mean every team, even the unchartered cars are really pushing limits to the max. You can see which ones are doing so based on who fails inspection.

BOWLES: SHOULD NASCAR SPICE UP QUALIFYING WITH PLAYOFF POINTS?

After the Auto Club Speedway fiasco, when 13 cars failed Cup inspection prior to qualifying, NASCAR threw down the hammer on the XFINITY Series. Any team that failed pre-qualifying inspection would have to start at the rear of the field. They would also have had to serve a pass-through penalty during the first green-flag lap once the race begins.

The strictness of this policy is debatable. Is it too much? It might be, but that’s what happens when you push the envelope a little too far. When 13 teams fail inspection to the point where they can’t even pass after qualifying begins, something needs to be done.

Starting at Martinsville this coming weekend, there will also be a new inspection process.

“Post-qualifying and pre-race inspection are going to be lumped into one major inspection,” NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We are actually kind of looking forward to that as a way forward. It would be really good if we could get it down to one major inspection for the weekend.”

This move will certainly give teams more time to prepare their cars and go through inspection multiple times if they need to. However, there won’t be many good excuses if we see some big names get nailed at Martinsville.

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Bill B

Can’t say I’m a fan of Cassill and I don’t even have an account on any social media (so I’m not a follower), but of all the drivers that have been toiling in the lower ranks for the last 5 years, I’d love to see him get a chance in top tier equipment. My perception of him is that he gets everything out of the car he can without wrecking it. That may or may not be true statistically but that’s my perception. I can’t say I pay particular attention to him so I could be way off.

Anthony P.

Landon is a good kid, and sponsor worthy. Speaks well and knows the system. He has proven time and time again that in a lesser car, he can perform. However, his most recent stint at FRM showed he was not quite where he needed to be skill wise. Being the top FRM car(prepared at Roush racing), and being outran every week by Ragan. I think the talent/skill regressed by not getting into a car that could give him the confidence week in and week out. Confidence is crucial in these cars, from top breed to bottom.

At the end of the day Joseph, it comes down to money and being a wheelman. Talent rises to the top. I like Landon, and think he is a great person. Action > words though. I am not sure he will be able to do much more with a 15 race, raced engine + chassis then Jeffery. Starcom cannot be operating on more than a shoestring budget. He would be better off trying to find a mid-top tier ride in xfinity. Look at Allgaier for example. Does more with the $$$ they have there, and can potentially win races on 1/3 the budget of cup.

The question, is it important for Landon to be here? I would argue that Carl Edwards needs to be here, and NOW. + Matt Kenseth. Losing STAR talent is what is killing the ratings + series. No offense, but bringing Landon in might bring in 15-30 more folks to the track and TV screens this and next race at Texas. Bring Carl and/or Matt back in, you could see a 6 figure swing.

SmarterThanYo

It’s too late for Carl and Matt. Although Matt left against his will, the early retirement of other stars seems to be a direct result of the BS NASCAR is foisting on the teams and the fans. Carl lost 2 or 3 championships because of incessant rules changes and changes to the championship format. Teams are now electing to miss qualifying rather than being laser-inspected to death. Teams are penalized (ENCUMBERED!) for being millimeters off in irrelevant measurements, but Kevin Harvick wins at least 2 races (by his own admission) with a rear window that was bowed in and visible to the naked eye, even on television. NASCAR is digging its own grave and Landon Cassill isn’t going to save it. His return may be nice for his 10 fans, including Joseph Wolkin, but it’s not important to the sport in any meaningful way.

Russ

the early retirement of these people has nothing directly to do with nascar. Its simply businesses shedding the highest paid employee in the company. That move along can have a huge impact on the old P&L statement.
As to the teams being laser inspected to death. They know where the limits are, so they are the ones who make the decision on whether to test them or not.

Lots of things nascar does that we can complain about. However those two arent part of it.

SmarterThanYo

Yeah, just what NASCAR needs is more rolling roadblocks on the track. Be realistic and cut the number of charters down to the 25 who can actually manage a lead lap finish once in awhile.

lastlap

Better yet, cut all of the charters and let the fastest qualifiers start the race.
If a few of the big boys go home, tough.
With the current championship format it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Dwayne

starcom didn’t let Jeffery go, the parted ways as the program wasn’t up to par for Jefferey’s sponsor.

Phil

After the Auto Club Speedway fiasco, when 13 cars failed Cup inspection prior to qualifying, NASCAR threw down the hammer on the XFINITY Series. Any team that failed pre-qualifying inspection would have to start at the rear of the field. They would also have had to serve a pass-through penalty during the first green-flag lap once the race begins.

The drivers in the Xfinity Series had to be saying, “what the hell?” we get the hammer because of the CUP Series? what the hell did we do? hahahahaha

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