Landon Cassill lost the Fontana lead, but won air time and hearts

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It’s hard not to love a good underdog story and for about 10 to 15 minutes in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Landon Cassill was that underdog story.

The driver of the No. 40 Hillman Racing Chevrolet opted not to pit during the final caution flag that set up the green-white-checkered finish. So he’d be leading on the restart, on old tires, knowing full well he’d be a sitting duck once the green flew.

No matter. Cassill did the responsible thing and got out of the way to allow all the faster cars on new tires through, and eventually faded back to 25th over two laps. Which, for the small operation, is still a darn good result.

But he’d generated a wealth of buzz and attention for he and his small team, and trended nationally on Twitter.

In an interview with The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Cassill said he knew was a sitting duck, but the gamble was well worth it.

“We knew we were a sitting duck,” he said. “By staying out and keeping 25 cars on the lead lap, I basically ensured my worst finish would be 25th.

“At that point, it doesn’t even matter (what the spotter says). I knew my agenda on that restart was to get a clean start, get to the start finish line and then get to the outside so that they could all do their thing on the bottom.”

Cassill finished 12th at the Daytona 500 to lead the underdogs there. He’s not running for Cup points, but story lines are not limited by series, and his brief run at the front generated way more than just “he finished 25th.”

From Joe Falk, who runs the team:

Video highlights from Stage 12 of Dakar Rally, 2 stages remain

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Thursday’s Stage 12 of the 40th Dakar Rally not only closed the overall standings gap in at least two classes (cars and trucks), two other classes (bikes and quads) failed to get going due to weather conditions.

The full video highlights of Stage 12 will air on NBCSN on Friday at 7 pm ET, but here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s action:

CARS

2018 Dakar Rally: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins Stage 12 of cars

BIKES

 Stage 12 cancelled due to weather conditions

 

TRUCKS

Ton van Genugten edged out Martin Kolomy in Stage of, while Federico Villagra and Eduard Nikolaev both faced an uphill battle to finish fourth and third respectively.

QUADS

Even though the Quads were also impacted by weather issues on Thursday, Ignacio Casale, the 2014 Dakar winner, continues to make his case for a second overall victory in the quads.