[media-credit id=62 align=”alignright” width=”214″][/media-credit]Landon Cassill, driver of the No. 51 Security/Benefit Thank A Teacher Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing, has much for which to be thankful.
First and foremost, he is thankful that he is competing at the Cup Series level as a driver for an up and coming team, owned by James Finch.
Cassill, the 2008 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year and former development driver for Hendrick Motorsports, recognizes that he is most fortunate to be behind the wheel of a race car at NASCAR’s highest level.
Cassill is also thankful to Bill Elliott, who had been in the Phoenix Racing machine prior to his coming aboard. ‘Awesome Bill for Dawsonville’ was able, as a former champion, to shake down the car to prepare it for Cassill’s tenure behind the wheel.
In order to be on the track, Cassill is incredibly grateful to his new sponsor, Security Benefit, and their special program ‘Thank A Teacher Today.’
“It’s great,” Cassill said of his sponsor and their program. “Security Benefit has been on board with us and Phoenix Racing and they’ve got this program ‘Thank A Teacher Today.’
“It’s kind of new and it’s just starting up but I think it speaks for itself,” Cassill continued. “We really need to thank the teachers out there that have gotten us to where we’re at. I know I have a lot of teachers to thank.”
Top on the list of teachers for which Cassill is grateful is his science teacher, Mr. O’Connor. Cassill graduated from high school in 2007.
“Mr. O’Connor, my science teacher from high school was my favorite teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa,” Cassill said. “He was a good teacher that was a good friend to me.”
“He taught me a lot about discipline and things like that,” Cassill continued. “Some of what he taught wasn’t even science but he was just an impactful teacher and I think that’s what makes a lot of them special.”
Cassill believes that his sponsor and their ‘Thank A Teacher Program’ are a perfect match on and off the track.
“It’s really neat for me to have the opportunity to carry that banner because I’m so young and I just got out of high school a couple of years ago,” Cassill said. “I can remember my teachers and I can go back to my school.”
“We’re planning to go back once school is back in session,” Cassill continued. “Even outside of school, I’ve had a lot of teachers that have helped mentor me in what I do. It’s a really neat sponsor and a really fun deal.”
Cassill’s sponsor is designing a new website where fans will be able to post on the wall and share their favorite teacher stories. Security Benefit will also be providing opportunities for teachers to come to the track, hang out with the young driver, and be a part of the NASCAR experience.
“I’ve shared a story about my favorite teachers and it’s a place to go to thank your teacher,” Cassill said of his sponsor’s new website. “And then we’ll entertain teachers at the race track.”
“It’s just a neat deal,” Cassill continued. “A lot of these sponsors in the sport are pushing products, but this one with Security Benefit is taking the initiative to thank our teachers.”
In addition to his sponsor gratitude, Cassill is thrilled with his run at Pocono Raceway this past weekend. He not only managed to finish the race on the lead lap, which was one of his major goals, but he even had his No. 51 Thank A Teacher race car out at the front of the field for a few laps.
“It was a great day for the Thank A Teacher Today team,” Cassill said. “For us to go out and finish on the lead lap, and lead the race along the way, says a whole lot about us.”
“And yeah, it was cool leading laps in the world’s greatest motorsport so I’m proud of that.”
Cassill was also grateful for the opportunity to learn more about Pocono, particularly as last year he was only able to start and park there.
“I learned a lot about the track,” Cassill said. “Seat time is so important and I felt a lot more comfortable by the end of the race. This is just what we needed after a few tough finishes.”
Although Cassill was thankful for his good run at Pocono, finishing 25th, he paid a bit of a price for his personal accomplishment.
“I have a nice little blister tomorrow from the shifting,” Cassill said. “There was a lot of shifting going on so it made it interesting. It was fun though.”
With Pocono in his rear view mirror, Cassill is getting ready to celebrate a major milestone in his young career at this weekend’s race in the Irish Hills of Michigan. Cassill will be marking his one-year anniversary in the Cup Series.
“I made my first start in the Cup Series with Phoenix Racing last year in the first Michigan race,” Cassill said. “It was a neat opportunity for me at the time because it was my first opportunity in the Cup Series.”
“And it was kind of a surprise and we didn’t even have the funding to go race,” Cassill continued. “So, we had to qualify for the race. We qualified in and it was just a neat deal for me. It sparked my opportunity to go Cup racing.”
How will Cassill celebrate his special anniversary at Michigan?
“I’m just going to be there and race,” Cassill said. “Hopefully we’ll keep this momentum up and capitalize at Michigan.”
“And hopefully I’ll have a good race and make an even better memory from it.”