CASSILL DOMINATES SPEEDWEEKS NIGHT THREE by Matt Kentfield & Jeremy Troiano
Anderson Ok After Scary Accident
On any given night during Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway, an equal balance of young talent and veteran experience makes for some of the best short track racing. On the third night of this year’s Speedweeks, it was the youth of Landon Cassill that came out on top.
Of course, the 16-year-old has plenty of talent to go with his youth, too.
Landon Cassill was in the driver's seat on Sunday night at New Smyrna. (51 Photos)
Cassill started on the pole and led all 30 laps of Sunday night’s Super Late Model feature to win his first race of this year’s Speedweeks after locking down a second place run on the first night of racing Friday.
“We had such a great run on Friday night and it gave us a ton of momentum going into tonight,” said the young Iowan. “We knew we had a good car, but I never really liked starting on the pole because there’s always so much pressure.
“One time my crew chief Rich and I were talking about it and I told him that starting on the pole and winning a race is the most boring thing ever. He told me, ‘Yeah it must be a real shame,’ but I really don’t like it. Coming out
and winning is good no matter what, though. That’s the bottom line.”
Travis Kittleson set fast time in qualifying earlier in the day, but the top six qualifiers were inverted for the start. Jeff Choquette posed the biggest threat to Cassill but was never able to catch him.
“We were just really tight center off tonight,” said Choquette. “I just couldn’t turn and get off the corners. I think that really hurt us, but Landon did have a really good car. He actually was tight too, so I think that maybe if we weren’t as tight as we were and could turn off the corner a little bit better then we’d have something for him.”
Despite his age, Cassill has plenty of racing experience. Between ASA Late Models and good runs in some of the most prestigious Super Late Model races in the country, Cassill has been doing this for years. He does have the experience, but he knows he’s going into the lion’s den when he comes to New Smyrna.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to race with these guys out here and these guys are the best in the country. For a lot of them it’s their home track. This place has racing just about every weekend all year long pretty much and these guys run here all the time. That’s why it’s so great to run right with them the other night and come out here and beat them tonight.”
Cassill didn’t just beat them, he dominated them. That’s why Cassill doesn’t like to focus on his young age when he has runs like he had Sunday.
It’s definitely awesome to come down here and win no matter who you are, but we’re all racecar drivers. It
Cassill (#7) led Jeff Choquette (#70) all night long.
doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, 10 years old, 50 years old, boy or girl, we’re all race car drivers and we should all be treated equally. Even though I’m 16 I’m just out here trying to be respected as a racecar driver and I appreciate the other drivers that respect me too.”
Making the victory even sweeter for Cassill was that he was racing with a less-powerful but more economical spec motor in his #7 car. Most drivers were running the big power and big money built motors that have become the norm in Super Late Model racing. The spec motors have had a pretty good track record of late, as along with Cassill’s win at New Smyrna Sunday, Clay Rogers had one in his machine when he finished second at Speedfest 2006 in Lakeland, FL last month.
“The thing’s awesome,” said Cassill. “It runs great. I’ve got a big motor and I can definitely tell the power difference but we lose very little down the straightaway. What we do lose in the straightaways we make up twice as much in the corners and in the corners is where it matters.”
JR Fitzpatrick, Kittleson, and Trevor Stewart followed Cassill and Choquette to the checkers. The Super Late Models have Monday night off, but the Tour Type and SK Modifieds will be back in action Monday after their night off Sunday.
NIGHT THREE NOTES: SLM
WAYNE ANDERSON OKAY AFTER SCARY WRECK
Wayne Anderson provided everyone at New Smyrna Speedway Saturday night with one of the most spectacular crashes of recent Speedweeks. Anderson was hanging around the top-10 when he was pushed into the outside wall at the exit of the second corner. Anderson’s car swerved to the inside, where it began to roll and slide along the length of the backstretch while a fire erupted from the engine compartment. He finally came to a stop atop the inside retaining wall in turn three.
Anderson quickly escaped from his still smoldering car unharmed.
“The #8 (JR Fitzpatrick) car in front of me got real loose and I was right behind him and the car just took off on
me,” said Anderson. “I’ve been racing for 20 years and I’ve never been on my roof. There is always a first time I guess. There was some fire and I just tried to get out of the car as fast as possible.
“I’m ok though. It was a rough ride.”
CHOQUETTE TAKES SECOND WITH ANOTHER CAR
Jeff Choquette broke out a new car for the first night of Smyrna Speedweeks on Friday but did not return with it for Sunday’s events. The car dubbed “Orange Surprise” stayed in Choquette’s trailer and the team ran their standard car for night three.
“We had a problem with the motor in the other car and we didn’t want to bring it out tonight until we could really get it fixed up,” said Choquette. “It was a problem with the fuel pickup but it wasn’t worth bringing it back tonight. We may bring it back but we’re going to spend tomorrow making sure we’ve got the best car for the rest of the week.”
For the first time since 1995, Junior Niedecken was back at New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday night. The Florida short track nice guy was back at the track to shake down his new #99 machine and he hopes to keep racing each night of Speedweeks. He got off to a decent start to this year’s Smyrna trip by finishing 12th.
“It’s always enjoyable to go racing so it was great to be back here,” said Niedecken. “I haven’t been here since 1995 and it’s gotten pretty old. Maybe I have too. Anyway, I’m used to running on old tracks so it’s fun and hopefully we can take what we learned tonight and come back on Tuesday with a much better effort.
Junior Niedecken (#99) returend to Speedweeks.
KITTLESON AND STEWART TANGLE LATE
When Travis Kittleson and Trevor Stewart were racing each other Sunday night, they provided plenty of sparks that flew in the chilly Florida air. After a few laps of close racing, those sparks turned to fireworks. Kittleson and Stewart made contact that sent Stewart’s car spinning, leaving the two drivers telling two different tales of the incident.
“I don’t really know what happened other than somebody got into my left rear,” said Stewart. “Whoever it was didn’t give me any room and he didn’t know what he was doing.”
Kittleson took responsibility but still claimed it as a product of hard racing.
“I was headed for a podium finish and just got a little over anxious,” said Kittleson. “Stewart was shoving up in the corners, I eventually got back on the gas early and got under him and he came down on me. I have to go for the holes, so it was just a racing deal.”
The Stewart incident was not Kittleson’s only run-in on the night. Earlier in the race Kittleson was involved in a multiple-car crash between the third and fourth turns that also included the Wayne Anderson entry.
“I tried to pass Wayne a couple times but never really got the spot and he came down on me. That’s what he was supposed to do so I wasn’t mad about it but that meant it
Wayne Anderson's #84 flipped and slid down the backstretch before coming to rest on top of the inside wall.
was fair game from there. I was trying to stay close to him and put a little heat on him, but lap cars made it three wide up ahead of us. Wayne got on the brakes, I got on the brakes, and we all piled in but luckily our car didn’t get much damage.”
SPEEDWEEKS HARDCORE FAN AWARD
When the clock struck midnight Sunday, there was still another feature race to be held. The Mini Stocks were the final event of the night, but on a frigid night that included several red flags and many crashes in all the other features, one fan remained sitting in the grandstands when the green flag flew for the Minis.
“Hell, I’ve been here this long. I might as well stay until the end,” said the anonymous fan.
AJ CURRELI WINS LATE MODEL FEATURE
AJ Curelli watched a huge melee happen on the initial start of the Late Model feature on Sunday, but watching
There was one fan left in the stands at the end of the night before the final race.
it meant that he wasn’t involved in it. That’s one of the reasons he was able to win the 30-lap feature. Another was just having a fast racecar, plus having the help and respect of his closest competitor.
“Luckily, the #9 (Rich Clouser) is a good guy and a good driver. We were alright when we got in front because we are about equal. He and I are probably the two best cars here. I knew when I got in the lead, we’d be ok and I could keep it. The big thing here is that you have so many guys that are off the pace a little bit, if you can get around them, you’ll be ok. Luckily, the lap cars stayed out of the way tonight.”