● Event: Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Round 26 of 36)
● Time/Date: 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Aug. 28
● Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
● Layout: 2.5-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 160 laps/400 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 50 laps / Stage 2: 50 laps / Final Stage: 60 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● When NASCAR Cup Series veteran Landon Cassill straps into the cockpit of the No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) on Saturday night in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, it will be his milestone 500th career start across NASCAR’s top-three series.
● Saturday night’s 400-mile race on the 2.5-mile Daytona oval will be the 325th of Cassill’s Cup Series career dating back to his debut on June 13, 2010 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It will be his first Cup Series start since the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 32-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be just 24 hours removed from his 167th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start dating back to 2007. His 499th career NASCAR start comes Friday night in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona, which will be his 23rd start of the season as a fulltime competitor for JD Motorsports. Cassill also raced in eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events in 2008 and 2010.
● Carnomaly, the world’s leading automotive crypto company with an eye on revolutionizing the future of the automotive industry, will serve as the primary partner for Cassill and the No. 96 GBR Toyota both Saturday night at Daytona and for the Oct. 3 YellaWood 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Carnomaly’s fleet of tech solutions is designed to bring digital innovation to the automotive industry through the power of blockchain and crypto technology. Through the company’s innovation, Carnomaly is on a path to change the way consumers buy, sell, shop, report and finance new or used vehicles. The Coke Zero 400 will be its first appearance as a primary team partner in NASCAR.
● The No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota Camry will be making GBR’s 79th start since joining the Cup Series as a part-time team in 2017 and its sixth start of 2021.Team owner Marty Gaunt’s almost two-decades-long relationship with Toyota dates back to his ownership of Toyota-powered Clean Line Racing in the Truck Series, which became Red Horse Racing, as well as his executive role in the formation of Red Bull’s nascent Toyota-powered Cup Series team. Gaunt’s Toyota ties strengthened after the 2008 season, when he purchased Triad Racing Development, which leased Toyota engines across NASCAR’s Cup, Xfinity and Truck series and continues to be NASCAR’s exclusive distributor of Toyota parts as Triad Racing. Gaunt founded GBR in 2010, with his eponymous team starting out in the Canada-based NASCAR Pinty’s Series and the U.S.-based NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Its first driver, Jason Bowles, scored GBR’s maiden victory in the 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, with the precursor to that win being the pole position in track-record time at the 2011 Streets of Toronto 100. After seven years competing in NASCAR’s development divisions, Gaunt stepped up to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2017.
● Saturday night’s race will be the seventh on the Daytona oval for GBR. D.J. Kennington drove it to a best finish of 13th in the July 2018 race, and Parker Kligerman drove it to 15th in the 2019 Daytona 500. A year ago this weekend, Daniel Suárez drove the No. 96 GBR Toyota to the lead midway through the race and led 19 laps before an accident on the next-to-last scheduled lap of the race ended his bid. In this past February’s Duel qualifying races for the Daytona 500, veteran driver Ty Dillon finished a solid sixth in the No. 96 Toyota but was nipped at the finish line by .04 of a second in his bid to qualify for The Great American Race. It marked the highest Duel finish ever by a team that did not qualify for the Daytona 500.
Landon Cassill, Driver of the No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing
Your first career start in the Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota will be the milestone 500th of your career across NASCAR’s top-three series. Does that make Saturday night’s race that much more special for you?
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been an interesting couple of years with COVID and running fulltime in Xfinity. You know, I’ve made a vast majority of my career starts in the Cup Series, but it’s really exciting to be making my 500th NASCAR start. I guess I have a lot of experience (laughs). It’s kind of humbling and emotional, honestly, to think about making that many starts. That’s a career, not just getting in by luck or by chance. It’s a lot of work and sacrifice from my family and support from my family and teams and sponsors over the years that have given me opportunities time and again. It’s pretty incredible.”
One of the things that you’re known for is taking care of equipment and being there at the end of the race. How important will that be for you Saturday night at Daytona?
“That’s what it’s about. You want to be fast and you want to show your speed, but the most important thing is to see the white flag because that’s the only way to give yourself a chance at these places. For me, the first 50 laps are going to be where I want to feel the car and understand my spotter and really try to get an idea of what this team is going to be like. We don’t have any practice or qualifying, so I really want to use the first part of the race to get comfortable and communicate with my crew chief and maybe get through a pit stop cycle before I really start getting aggressive.”
Do you feel having raced in Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race will help you get up to speed more quickly Saturday night?
“With the car just on another level in the Cup Series, I don’t think technically it’ll help me. But I think fundamentally I’ll be in the mindset, I’ll be fresh off a race, I will have done things right, I’ll have things that I’ll want to improve from the night before, so I think it’s definitely helpful that I’ll have myself in the right mindset going into Saturday.”
Everyone says you can’t succeed at the superspeedway events without the help of friends. You’ll be one of seven Toyota drivers out there Saturday night. How does that bode for you and the No. 96 team?
“It’s definitely good equipment, it’s definitely good company to be in. Gaunt Brothers has a relationship with those teams that they’ve earned and built, so I’m just looking forward to getting in the car and doing the best service that I can for everyone.”
You and team owner Marty Gaunt have talked about racing together over the years, and now you finally get your chance. How far back does your relationship go?
“When I first worked with Marty, I ran his engines at BK Racing back in 2012. We haven’t really worked together since then, but we’ve both been in the sport and we’re both very deep into the business and we’ve known each other well. We talk pretty consistently, always have stayed in touch, and we just have really good conversations.”
How special is it for you to bring Carnomaly to an actual NASCAR Cup Series race after partnering with the company in esports?
“Carnomaly is really cool, and it’s really exciting for me to bring them in because it’s the blend of my love for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and automotive. Carnomaly is really breaking new ground in the cryptocurrency space by creating an automotive-focused platform that’s all on their blockchain, and it’s a really incredible technology that’s going to have a lot of cool use cases in the automotive world. So, as a kid who grew up in car dealerships and racecars, and now my recent dealings with cryptocurrency, it’s a really good partnership. That’s really where it came from almost a year ago when I first started talking with Carnomaly and got them involved on the esports side.”
How long have you been active in cryptocurrency and how were you able to bring companies like Carnomaly into NASCAR?
“I got into cryptocurrency back in 2013 and it’s something that’s delivered a great yield for me, personally. But I really decided a couple of years ago that I wanted to bring it into my professional career and I started networking in the space and meeting people. Networking in the cryptospace is how I developed relationships with Carnomaly, and with Voyager, my partner on the Xfinity Series side. Voyager is the first fulltime primary sponsorship that’s paid for entirely in cryptocurrency. It’s my marquee partner sponsoring my No. 4 car at JD Motorsports all season long in the Xfinity Series. It’s helped break new ground with partnerships like Carnomaly, which is more proof that NASCAR is a great place for these new companies and new networks and new communities to be to get their name out there and show their use cases. For Carnomaly, it’s exciting to get them to the Cup Series, get them to a couple of tracks where we could have a shot at winning the race, especially with a car like the No. 96 at Gaunt Brothers. They’ve got just really good equipment and stuff that’s capable of running really well.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!