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New team buys up Red Bull Racing assets
10 February 2012
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.
TRG ran for three years in NASCAR competition but shut down its Cup team over the winter. The new team is being financially backed by former TRG investors, but TRG owner Kevin Buckler himself is not involved in the new venture. The team will be working out of Randy Moss Motorsports shop in Statesville, NC, and will get its engines from Triad. A name for the team will be announced shortly.
"I've got a lot of faith in this deal," said Cassill. "These guys want to get to the race track, want to do it right, pay their bills and they really want to have a good reputation.
"They want to race and they want to do it right. They got away from that [at TRG] and have moved on and created a pretty neat opportunity," he continued. "These guys have dabbled into NASCAR through TRG but have decided they want to do this the right way and be competitive ... They want to make a good impression on the sport and be a positive addition to NASCAR."
As well as purchasing the owner points for the #83 car driven by Vickers last season, who finished 25th in the points standings, the new Cup team also bought the points for the #4 that was driven by Kasey Kahne who came 14th in the standings, making the addition of a second car a distinct possibility for Daytona at least.
The Red Bull drinks company shocked NASCAR last summer by announcing that it was pulling out of NASCAR involvement entirely at the end of the 2011 season. Unable to find a buyer at the time, the team formally shut its doors in December and all staff were laid off. Former Red Bull vice president and general manager Jay Frye is now working in an executive position for Hendrick Motorsports.
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