Landon Cassill has been given a guaranteed race start for the Daytona 500 later this month, at the wheel of the #83 car that was formerly part of the Red Bull Racing team.
A group of investors have bought equipment and assets from the wound-up team, and will be using the #83 car and its 2011 owner points to put the 22-year-old driver into his first Daytona 500 appearance.
The team - which is yet to be named - intends to run a full 2012 Cup season, and Cassill himself says that he has signed a contract for the whole of the year.
"It's my first time going into a NASCAR season with a signed deal knowing I'm going to be in the car every week," he said. The owner points amassed by Brian Vickers in the #83 Toyota last year will ensure that Cassill makes the grid for the first five races of the 2012 season, after which he'll need to keep the car in the top 35 by his own efforts or face qualifying on speed alone every weekend.
Cassill has 33 Nationwide and 48 career Cup starts, with a best Cup finish of 12th place at Michigan last year while driving for Phoenix Racing, but he has never competed in "The Great American Race" before.
"It's my first time attempting the Daytona 500," he said, and then the penny dropped: "Wait, I am locked into the Daytona 500! That's a pretty big dream came true."
Cassill had been expecting to operate a start-and-park car for Front Row Motorsports in 2012, but had an option to break the contract if a full-time ride became available elsewhere.
"[Front Row] gave me the opportunity that if I got a full-time ride, I could take it, which lo and behold happened before Daytona," Cassill explained. "We didn't hardly expect that. It was very gracious of them to give me that and allow me to move on to a full-time opportunity."
Doug Richert will be the crew chief for the #83 team, and the team manager is Harry McMullen. McMullen is a former general manager of TRG Motorsports.