CHARLOTTE, N.C. and RICHMOND, Va. – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Jared Tilton/Getty Images North America photo –
The little team that could — and did.
That adage defined Landon Cassill and JD Motorsports in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Speedway, the ninth race on the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule.
Cassill rattled his No. 01 Flex Seal Chevrolet to a 10th place finish – one lap down – in a star-studded field, that featured reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano, and eventual race winner Denny Hamlin.
“[This was a] great car and a great night,” Cassill said. “This is what we’re used to doing. Didn’t think it would take us this long to get a top 10, but hopefully it gives us some momentum going forward.”
After having three last place finishes in the first eight races, the run marks Cassill’s first top-20 finish this season and his 11th career top ten result in XFINITY Series competition. It was also just his fourth top ten finish since the 2011 season.
Cassill later took to social media, saying that the team had vowed not to shave until they recorded a top ten finish.
“Very proud,” Cassill said on Twitter. “Everyone [from the team] said they would not shave until we got [a top ten]. [Now] we can [shave.]”
All jokes aside however, this result has been building for Cassill and the entire JD Motorsports organization.
Cassill had three top ten finishes last season – one on a restrictor plate track – and finished 12th in the championship standings after missing two races. With the positive results from the 2014 season, Cassill and his team were hungry going into 2015 after an offseason that had them expecting and wanting more.
“Our goal is top tens this season,” Cassill said before Daytona. “We feel like we’ve made a lot of improvements and reorganized a lot of things. Last year was kind of our first real year together. We saw what we’re capable of. It’s just a matter of building on that.”
Despite the struggles in the first eight races, Cassill was finally able to reach his and the team’s expectations at Richmond Friday night – and there is nowhere to go but up for him and the organization.
Along with his XFINITY ride, Cassill also competes full-time for Hillman-Smith Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. He will start 19th in the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday night at Richmond.
For now though, Cassill is able to walk with a little swagger in his step, knowing that Talladega is right around the corner – a race that is always the great equalizer in motorsports.