Landon Cassill wasn't too surprised to hear Kurt Busch had been hired to drive Phoenix Racing's No. 51 NASCAR Sprint Cup car next season, even though it was Cassill's ride for most of 2011.
The young driver said via phone on Thursday he's been looking for a job ever since the offseason started and felt he wasn't "entitled" to return to Phoenix Racing next season.
"I kind of saw something like this coming, whether it was David Ragan or Kurt Busch," Cassill said. "James (Finch, team owner) gave me an incredible opportunity last year in my first season in the Cup Series, but there's no guarantees right now in the sport."
Cassill's focus now is convincing another team owner to give him a shot.
"That's the same thing I've been trying to do all winter," he said. "This hasn't struck me all of the sudden, like, 'Oh my God, I'm unemployed!' I've been working all winter, talking to different owners – James and others. There's a few opportunities out there, and if I can get one of them, we'll be alright."
Cassill said he's not above taking a Nationwide or Truck Series ride if one was available – but none seem to be right now. A more realistic option, he said, is to find a Cup team who still needs a driver.
Asked how he'll land in one of the remaining open seats, Cassill reeled off his sales pitch to prospective employers.
"I really feel like I can make a difference at somebody's organization at a really good price point," he said. "Obviously, I'm young and hungry. I've got a lot of energy and motivation right now. I want to come into a team and be able to make a difference in a team at a very, very, very low price. Some of the other available drivers right now can't compete with that."
Cassill believes he can distinguish himself from the other unemployed Sprint Cup drivers – such as Ragan, Brian Vickers and David Reutimann – with his youth and the low salary requirements that go along with it..
"I've never gotten paid that (high Cup salary) and have no reason to be paid that right now," he said. "I'm cheap labor."
The 22-year-old Iowa native indicated he didn't believe Busch took his job at Phoenix Racing so much as it was a wide-open seat after Homestead. Team officials called Cassill on Thursday to inform him of the news.
"The 51 team was great to me last year and it was fun to drive for them, and I would have loved to have the opportunity again in 2012," Cassill said. "But in a way, they were no more likely than any other team just because of the state the sport is in right now."
Cassill said due to his lack of experience in top-flight Cup equipment, he couldn't speculate on how Busch would fare in moving down to the 51 car. But he said Busch may have to adjust to going from a team like Penske, which has several hundred employees, to the 12-man operation at Phoenix Racing.
"That might be something for him to get used to," Cassill said. "Those guys at Phoenix Racing work awfully hard just to get the cars to the racetrack. But Kurt has got a lot of experience in this sport and he's a champion, so I think he'll figure it out just fine."
Cassill said Phoenix Racing strongly believes it is capable of running in the top 15 or top 20 every week.
"James is all about winning, so hopefully that's what they go do," he said. "Obviously, I'm curious to how Kurt will run in that car. I think we had some real good, shining moments last year and I can tell you firsthand there's some times when we had a better car than where we finished – whether it was a pit stop or something I did. It's tough to say what will happen."