Lost in all the Chase hoopla, Brad Keselowski’s win and four big names failing to advance was the fact that in the race itself, Landon Cassill pulled through for Hillman Racing in the No. 40 CarsforSale.com Chevrolet to finish fourth at the end of Talladega’s Geico 500.
Cassill, who started 29th, stayed in the lead draft for a majority of the race and found himself in the top five through the series of late-race restarts.
He made one last-dash run on the outside through the tri-oval on the last lap to even attempt to steal the win – which would have skewed the Chase picture event more – but ended just outside the top three in fourth.
Still, in fourth, Cassill not only had his first career top-five finish, but his first career top-10 finish in 147 Cup starts. He’d done well at two of the three prior restrictor plate races earlier this year, finishing 12th in the Daytona 500 and a season-best 11th at the spring Talladega race in April.
“Amazing finish! I want to be clear about something, my team built these cars themselves, in OUR shop. We didn’t buy these cars from anyone,” Cassill wrote on his Twitter page after the race. “They work 7 days a week, and put everything they know about racing into these four SS races. Nobody deserves a top 5 more than them.”
He and wife Kaitlin had a “mini victory lane” on pit road after the race.
At 25, and driving for a small team, it’s great to see the underdog stories get rewarded at the restrictor plate races. Former Hendrick protege Cassill is showing what he can do given the circumstances.