Sunday, October 18, 2015

CUP: Landon Cassill Takes 2015 LASTCAR Cup Lead With Five Races To Go

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Landon Cassill picked up the 9th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway when his #40 Chevrolet fell out with engine issues after he completed 127 of 269 laps.

The finish, which occurred in Cassill’s 182nd series start, was his fourth of the season and his first since Bristol in April, 23 races ago.  With five races remaining, Cassill has sole possession of the overall lead in the LASTCAR Cup Series standings for the first time since Loudon in July.  Heading into Sunday’s race, Cassill was tied with Alex Bowman with 3 last-place runs apiece with Cassill leading the bottom-five tiebreaker 12-9.

CORRECTION (Oct. 21): Cassill and Bowman entered Kansas tied for the LASTCAR lead with 3 last-place finishes and 6 bottom-fives each.  Cassill led the bottom-ten tiebreaker 12-9 over Bowman.  Yeley entered Kansas with 2 last-place finishes, 6 Bottom Fives, and 19 Bottom Tens.  Thus, if Yeley held the last-place run at Kansas, he would have tied Cassill with 3 lasts and 7 Bottom Fives, but won a new bottom-ten tiebreaker of 20-13 with 31st-place Bowman still at 9 Bottom Tens.

Cassill has had a busy year, both on and off the track.  In May, immediately following a 39th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600, he completed a nearly 14-mile run from the track to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Less than two days later, Cassill’s wife Katie gave birth to their first son, Beckham.  And in August, Cassill beat fellow underdog Josh Wise by six minutes in the grueling Ironman World Championship in Austria.

Cassill has also continued to juggle full schedules in both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series, earning a series of strong runs along the way.  Driving the #01 entry for JD Motorsports in XFINITY, Cassill has picked up a pair of top-ten finishes with a season-best 8th at Darlington.  In Cup, he returned to the scene of his last-place run in the Daytona 500 to score a season-best 13th after the grinding last-lap crash.  Last month at Pocono, one week after he lost 10% of his body weight during a hot afternoon at Indianapolis, Cassill nearly bested the Daytona run when he finished 14th.  A third top-twenty finish again came at Darlington, where his 2001 Sterling Marlin tribute scheme crossed the line 20th.  Sights next turned to Kansas, where he finished 29th in May.

Cassill ran double-duty once more, finishing 18th in Saturday’s XFINITY race after starting 20th.  In Cup, Cassill was 40th-fastest of the 44 entrants during opening practice and held the 41st spot in qualifying with a lap of 185.618 mph.  Cassill made the show on Owner Points while Timmy Hill and Premium Motorsports’ #62 missed their second-straight race.  On Saturday, Cassill ran 39th in the second practice and matched that rank in Happy Hour.

Starting 43rd on Sunday was ARCA regular Will Kimmel, making his first Cup start since Kentucky in July.  Kimmel’s #32 Skuttle Tight Ford for Go Green Racing held the last spot during the first 30 laps and was the first to be lapped on the 17th circuit.  On Lap 31, Kimmel conceded the spot to J.J. Yeley, whose lapped #26 Honey Creek Outfitters / Maxim Toyota smacked the outside wall in Turn 2.  The wreck required nine laps for cautious track crews to clean up fluid from Yeley’s machine, and it appeared Yeley would tie Cassill and Bowman for the LASTCAR lead.  Even if Yeley did, he would not win the tiebreaker - Yeley had just 6 bottom-five finishes coming into Kansas, trailing Cassill’s 12 and Bowman’s 9.

Around Lap 130, Cassill made an unscheduled trip to pit road with engine issues, and ultimately became the first retiree from the event.  He entered the Bottom Five on Lap 134 - just as BK Racing managed to get Yeley’s #26 back on track, 105 laps in arrears.  If Yeley remained on track from that point, he would drop Cassill to last on Lap 249.  However, on Lap 233, Yeley again lost several laps and it appeared he would come just sixteen laps short of making 42nd.  Yeley returned on Lap 238 and finished the race under power, finally bumping Cassill to the rear on Lap 252.

Yeley finished 42nd, unable to catch two other drivers felled by separate mid-race accidents.  41st-place Austin Dillon and his #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet had raced all the way from the 25th starting spot to the Top 5, making the most of the high line.  The Chicagoland last-placer looked to be on his way to his second-straight top-ten finish before a tire went down on Lap 156, stuffing his car into the outside wall in Turn 2.  40th-place Clint Bowyer clobbered the same spot much harder on Lap 172, his #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota bouncing onto two wheels before grinding the entire length of the backstretch.  Both dropped beneath 39th-place Kimmel, who came home 14 laps down in the #32.

Next week at Talladega, Cassill looks to bounce back at the track where he scored his first Cup Series top-five finish - a 4th - in the 2014 running.

*This marks the first last-place finish for the #40 in a Cup race at Kansas, but not for Cassill, who scored his first Cup last-place finish in the same race on October 3, 2010 when his #64 Little Joe’s Autos Toyota fielded by Larry Gunselman broke the rear gear after 3 laps of the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods.

43) #40-Landon Cassill / 127 laps / engine
42) #26-J.J. Yeley / 144 laps / running
41) #3-Austin Dillon / 154 laps / crash
40) #15-Clint Bowyer / 170 laps / crash
39) #32-Will Kimmel / 255 laps / running

1st) Landon Cassill (4)
2nd) Alex Bowman (3)
3rd) Aric Almirola, Michael Annett, Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley (2)
4th) Justin Allgaier, A.J. Allmendinger, Trevor Bayne, Jeb Burton, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Gase, David Gilliland, Timmy Hill, Sam Hornish, Jr., Bobby Labonte, Brian Scott, Tony Stewart, Cole Whitt, Josh Wise (1)

1st) Hillman Smith Motorsports (4)
2nd) BK Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Richard Petty Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin Racing (3)
3rd) Go FAS Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Phil Parsons Racing / Premium Motorsports (2)
4th) Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG-Daugherty Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Childress Racing / Circle Sport, Roush-Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (18)
2nd) Ford (9)
3rd) Toyota (4)


Roman Nodonyet said...

I thought 12-9 was the bottom ten tiebreaker. I recall Bowman and Cassill being tied on bottom fives six-to-six. And if Yeley had finished last, he would've had six bottom fives, too, and the bottom ten tiebreaker, w/ 19 such finishes.

Brock Beard said...

Thank you for the catch - you are correct. I'd copied my note from Charlotte which was also incorrect. I will fix both pieces.