CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Landon Cassill has a job for the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career.
Cassill said Thursday he’s been hired to drive for a team that purchased assets and last year’s points from the now defunct Red Bull Racing team. Cassill will drive the No. 83 Toyota, he said, and the points Brian Vickers earned in that car last year guarantee Cassill a spot in the first five races of the season.
Cassill said he has a deal with the new team to drive all year.
“It’s my first time going into a NASCAR season with a signed deal knowing I’m going to be in the car every week,” Cassill said. “It’s my first time attempting the Daytona 500—wait, I am locked into the Daytona 500. That’s a pretty big dream came true.”
Doug Richert will be the crew chief for the No. 83 team, which is being fielded by investors who had previously backed TRG Motorsports. Cassill said the owners will announce the team name and sponsorship in the coming days.
Cassill has been working the NASCAR garages since he was 17, and five years later, his search for something steady has finally ended. He’s made 33 starts in the second-tier Nationwide Series since 2007, and has made 48 Sprint Cup Series starts over the last two seasons. His best finish was 12th at Michigan last season while driving for Phoenix Racing.
Cassill was originally planning to drive a start-and-park car for Front Row Motorsports when the opportunity with this new team was offered to him. Front Row had given him a clause to leave the team if he found a full-time ride.
The opportunity was created when this new team was able to complete a transaction with energy drink company Red Bull, which pulled out of NASCAR after five seasons. The team fielded two cars last year, Kasey Kahne ended the year 14th in the standings, and Brian Vickers was 25th.
The new team now owns the points for both entries, and could field a second car alongside Cassill in the Feb. 26 season-opening Daytona 500.
Former TRG general manager Harry McMullen will have the same role with the new team. The team is working out of Randy Moss Motorsports shop in Statesville, N.C., and will get its engines from Triad.
“I’ve got a lot of faith in this deal. These guys want to get to the race track, want to do it right, pay their bills and they really want to have a good reputation,” Cassill said. “They want to race and they want to do it right. They got away from that (at TRG) and have moved on and created a pretty neat opportunity.”
TRG Motorsports ran three seasons in NASCAR, but was forced to start-and-park at times. TRG shut down its Sprint Cup team this winter, and owner Kevin Buckler is not involved in this new team.
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