No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota Camry
● Event: YellaWood 500 (Round 31 of 36)
● Time/Date: 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 3
● Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
● Layout: 2.66-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 188 laps/500 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 68 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
- NASCAR Cup Series veteran Landon Cassill and partner Carnomaly return to the No. 96 Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR) for the second time during Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a special paint scheme on the No. 96 GBR Toyota this weekend will recognize a pair of individuals and their respective battles with cancer.
- Trisha Fennell, the sister-in-law of Carnomaly founder and CEO Scott Heninger, and 11-year-old Avery Pacheco are the individuals recognized on the No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota this weekend. Both are from Lewisville Texas, near the Dallas-Fort Worth-area headquarters of Carnomaly.
- Fennell is a two-time breast cancer survivor and her personal journey began when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2018. Being diagnosed twice with breast cancer was and is a physical and emotional journey for Fennell and she has learned that her new normal could be different from day to day. Alongside her husband and two young children, she stayed with her daily routine and activities as much as possible throughout her treatment, and is grateful for her strength and support system through her family and friends. Fennell is a true believer that you should take cancer head on and lean into it. A favorite quote she stands by is, “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.”
- Pacheco was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2019. Up until two weeks before her diagnosis, she was a completely healthy 9-year-old. She started the fourth grade and, like always, spent several nights at the cheer gym tumbling, stunting, and training with her team. She began complaining of pain in her leg and lower back and, days later, could no longer walk without help. After leukemia was confirmed, she had surgery to place a port in her chest that began a 30-month treatment plan, which has involved countless chemotherapy treatments, spinal taps, bone marrow biopsies, blood draws, chemo side effects, months of physical therapy learning to walk again and regain her strength, and multiple hospital stays. She is in her last phase of treatment and long-term maintenance with a just a few months of chemo left. Pacheco started middle school this fall and again is busy doing what she loves most, competitive cheer. Her positive attitude, strength and courage throughout her treatment has led to her new nickname of “brAVERY” among her family and friends.
- Sunday’s 500-mile race on the 2.66-mile Talladega oval will be the 326th of Cassill’s Cup Series career dating back to his debut on June 13, 2010 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. His start in the Carnomaly Toyota Aug. 29 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was his first in the Cup Series since the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 32-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was running at the front of the pack in the latter stages of that Daytona race with his fellow Toyota drivers when he was caught up in a multicar accident less than 20 laps from the finish. Sunday’s race at Talladega will be Cassill’s 18th Cup Series start at the track with best previous finishes of 11th scored in the 2014 and 2016 spring races.
- Carnomaly, the world’s leading automotive crypto company with an eye on revolutionizing the future of the automotive industry, made its first appearance as a NASCAR Cup Series primary team partner on the No. 96 GBR Toyota Aug. 28 at Daytona. 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 No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota Camry will be making GBR’s 80th start since joining the Cup Series as a part-time team in 2017 and its seventh 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’snascent 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.
- Sunday’s race will be the eighth on the Talladega oval for the GBR Toyota. Parker Kligerman drove it to a best finish of 15th in the October 2019 race. In April, 20-year-old Harrison Burton took the reins of the GBR Toyota at Talladega in history-making fashion, becoming the first driver born in the 2000s to make a Cup Series start. Burton had a strong run, restarting as high as seventh in the closing laps of the race before getting shuffled back to 20th at the checkered flag.
Landon Cassill, Driver of the No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota Camry for Gaunt Brothers Racing
You’re back in the No. 96 Carnomaly Toyota after a strong run that ended abruptly at Daytona. What are your thoughts as you head to Talladega this weekend?
“Daytona was incredible. It felt so great to get back in the Cup car and, even more specifically, to drive a Cup car with that caliber of equipment. That was the best-driving car I’ve had at Daytona in a long time – it was the nicest car, the fastest car. We put ourselves in position to be able to have a great finish. We were right where we needed to be, with all the other Toyotas in the top-five with less than 20 laps to go and that’s where you want to be. But ‘Daytona’ does happen and I feel like there’s always something you can do as a driver and I always take responsibility for my own racecar, but it is a tough place. It motivates me even more for Talladega because I know we have the speed and I’m comfortable with this package and I’m comfortable with this Carnomaly Toyota.”
You said you were leaving Daytona trying to figure out what you could’ve done differently. Did you get it sorted out in your mind?
“I think it just kind of became more clear to me how the race was playing out and it confirmed the best strategy for me to advance through the field, especially during green-flag pit cycles. That’s something I’ll remember for Talladega because I do feel like Talladega is even more likely to have a green-flag pit cycle than Daytona, so we’ll definitely keep an eye on that. And I think my emphasis with being with the Toyotas for those green-flag pit stops will be even more important.”
After knowing Marty Gaunt for such a long time, what was it like to final work with Marty and his team for the first time?
“I think, for the most part, it was maybe confirmation about what I already knew about Marty and his team – they’re first-class and they’re a top-notch group. Racing at the superspeedways is a very complicated creature in the moment, but everything else leading up to it is pretty simple. They’re obviously great folks and they put together a great car. It’s confirmation, again, of everything I’ve already known about.”
To the casual observer, Daytona and Talladega appear very similar on paper and with how the racing appears on television. But, as a NASCAR veteran, would you agree?
“They’re just completely different racetracks, and that’s cool because superspeedway racing is such a special creature. It’s awesome to have two very different versions of superspeedway racing between the two tracks. Talladega is just a lot wider and it feels bigger because it’s so much wider, so running three-wide is so much easier. In fact, running four-wide is even a possibility there, and I would definitely expect to see that.”
Since it’s wider and it feels bigger, safe to say you’re more comfortable racing at Talladega?
“It just has its own characteristics. I wouldn’t say it’s more comfortable because you can just end up in a tighter group of more cars. The track is easier to drive on its own, so that can be considered comfortable. But, ultimately, it’s not any more comfortable than Daytona, definitely not with 40 cars out there.”
What was it like working with the other Toyota drivers for the first time at Daytona, and how might that help you at Talladega?
“A lot of it was really with the track and executing on the plan that they set out to do. That was the best thing for me. As a driver, I hate to say I was to do as I was told, but they’re a smart bunch, they brought a fast car, they had a strategy, and my job was to execute on it. I was happy to be in that role and I’ll be happy to do it again on Sunday at Talladega.”
You’re representing Carnomaly for the second time ever in the Cup Series. How has that experience been for you and your partner?
“Carnomaly has just been over the moon about it. They loved the exposure they got out of it. Their community had a lot of energy around the racecar and it was such a great moment for Carnomaly. I think if we can get their car out front again and get it on TV again, they may feel even better. Scott (Heninger, founder and CEO) from Carnomaly was at Daytona and he’ll be at Talladega again. I think he’s definitely caught the racing bug.”
Talk about the special paint scheme your racecar will be featuring at Talladega this weekend.
“With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to take the opportunity to recognize a couple of people close to Carnomaly who have fought the disease over the past few years. We have pink and gold ribbons along both sides of the car – pink for breast cancer and gold for childhood cancer. Trisha Fennell’s name is on the pink ribbon as she is a two-time cancer survivor and the sister-in-law of Scott Heninger, the founder and CEO of Carnomaly. Avery Pacheco is in the latter stages of her two-and-a-half-year battle with leukemia, which was diagnosed when she was just 9 years old. Both are true inspirations to their friends and family and everyone who knows them. And both are from Lewisville (Texas), which is near Carnomaly’s headquarters in Plano. Carrying the names of these two ladies will give us added incentive to go out and get a really strong finish in their honor on Sunday afternoon.”