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Strong Bristol Performance Shines Spotlight on Cassill

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Landon Cassill was reflecting on his battle for the lead with Carl Edwards during the Food City 500 when an upset Ty Dillon walked over to interrupt.

Dillon was looking for an explanation over their contact in Turn 2 on Lap 461, which sent him into a half spin and damaged the left side of his Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. At time, both drivers had top 10 runs going, but Dillon ultimately finished 25th while Cassill wound up 22nd.

“Who’s your spotter, man? You weren’t even close,” Dillon said.

Dillon and Cassill walked back into the garage area and hashed things over, with Cassill emerging from the hauler afterward and admitting he made a move that was over his head. However, he felt there was no need to apologize.

“That’s just racing at Bristol,” Cassill told POPULAR SPEED. “But the move was definitely over my head, and I know that going into it. I just thought I had a shot at making it.”

In a release issued by the team after the race, Dillon said of the contact, “I don’t know what more I could have done there.”

The tangle was the only blemish on the day for Cassill.

The 26-year-old had a remarkable run going for Front Row Motorsports, which caught the attention of many because of the time he spent near the front. Although his finish wasn’t reflective of his performance, Cassill led 20 laps when his No. 38 Snap Fitness team decided to stay out on older tires just past the event’s halfway point.

Cassill not only restarted the race in the lead, but was able to battle the dominant – and eventual winner – Carl Edwards on the outside before ultimately giving way on Lap 282.

“That was the best our car was even on 20 lap tires. I felt like if I wanted to race him harder, I could have but it was the best our car had been all day,” Cassill said. “It was cool to lead laps. It was cool to legitimately run in the top 10 like that after we stayed using a little bit of strategy.

“I just hate it didn’t work out; it’s part of racing at Bristol I guess.”

After losing the lead, Cassill managed to keep his Ford amongst the top 10. Even better, on his next few pit stops, Cassill’s team did their part by getting him off pit road near where he entered it. Cassill called his group of guys “amazing” and joked he didn’t want to say where Front Row had assembled them.

“I feel like our jackman is a tremendous leader who sets a really good tempo on a pit stop,” Cassill said. “I think the jackman is the most important man in a pit stop, and ours sets a great tempo, and I’m just really proud of them. They busted off really good stops today.”

Sunday’s finish was Cassill’s second best of the season and fifth top-25 in eight starts. This year marks his first with Front Row Motorsports, who realigned their program in the offseason. They downsized from three to two full-time cars between Cassill and rookie Chris Buescher.

Buescher also had a solid showing and finished one spot ahead of Cassill in 21st. When laying out the season, both Cassill and Buescher expressed high hopes of being able to compare their program with that of Roush Fenway Racing, whom they share a technical alliance. All three Roush cars finished inside the top 16.

Bristol was just a stepping-stone, however. Cassill holds the organization’s lone top-20 finish this season, a 16th at Fontana, and sits 27th in points.

“The short tracks are good tracks for us. This is a purebred Front Row car; this is one of the cars they ran on short tracks last year and ran well with,” Cassill said of the program. “We’re able to build cars to a Roush-spec at the rest of the racetracks, so as the season progresses we need to continue to build a quality piece.

“Runs like today are good, but there’s definitely a lot to improve on and a lot of speed to find yet.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

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POPULAR SPEED is a Social Media driven website featuring exclusive content, photographs, news and pointed editorials. It’s makeup consists of veteran motorsports journalists as well as the unique voice of developing young talent. POPULAR SPEED was launched in 2013 under the direction of former Sprint Cup Series spotter, Mike Calinoff.