NASCAR Truck Series

Corey Heim wins first Truck race in last-lap pass

3 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway is widely regarded as a cross between a standard intermediate oval and a superspeedway with its higher banking while retaining the original 1.5-mile length. Like a classic superspeedway finish, Corey Heim made a final-lap pass on Kyle Busch Motorsports team-mate Chandler Smith to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in just his fifth career start.

Smith, the most recent Truck race winner at Las Vegas a fortnight ago, started on the pole while Heim was further back nineteenth as a driver change between races (Kyle Busch finished second at Vegas) impacted his starting position in the qualifying formula. Stewart Friesen, who started second, took the lead on the first lap and led the entire opening stage to win ahead of Grant Enfinger, Derek Kraus, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Tanner Gray, Smith, Ross Chastain, John Hunter Nemechek, and Tyler Ankrum.

While the first stage did not see any cautions, Hailie Deegan‘s race ended when she suffered a flat tyre after contact from Colby Howard, eventually resulting in it catching fire. It has been a difficult West Coast stretch for Deegan, who crashed out at Las Vegas followed by her Mint 400 début last weekend being hampered by a power steering failure.

Deegan was not injured by the blaze and subsequently posted on social media, “Yes I’m okay now. Our truck and times were super fast. First flat was caused from the 91 plowing into me on lap 7 on the back stretch for no reason. I was on fire for multiple laps. I started suffocating and couldn’t breathe when the fire extinguisher and black smoke engulfed the truck on pit road. I couldn’t get out because I couldn’t see the window net. I declined my interview because I couldn’t say 2 worsd without coughing/choking”.

Save for a debris caution on lap 51, the second stage was also relatively clean. Nemechek won with Ty Majeski, Smith, Eckes, Ankrum, Crafton, Dean Thompson, Gray, Carson Hocevar, and Ryan Preece rounding out the top ten.

Despite receiving stage points, Eckes and Thompson’s day fell apart when they wrecked with Thompson’s Niece Motorsports team-mate Lawless Alan on lap 69. Additional cautions came for Tate Fogleman‘s spin, Gray crashing with Jordan Anderson and Fogleman, and another Niece casualty in Kris Wright.

At the front, Smith dominated the stage and seemed poised to win a second consecutive race. However, as the field ran single file coming to the finish, Heim received a strong push from KBM ally Nemechek—who was two laps down after having to pit for damage—to catch Smith as they approached turn one. The Heim/Nemechek duo pulled ahead and Nemechek defended for his team-mate as Heim pulled away for the win.

Heim, a Georgia native who is doing a part-time Truck schedule and finished second in the ARCA Menards Series championship in 2021, is the first driver to win the latter’s season opener at Daytona and a NASCAR national series race in the same year since his boss Kyle Busch did so in 2004 when he won five Xfinity Series events. Other instances include Joe Ruttman in 1982, Jeff Purvis in 1996, and Ryan Newman in 2001, all of whom also won in Xfinity meaning Heim is the only one to do so in the Trucks.

“I feel like our #51 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was really good,” said Heim. “It could suck up to the #18 (Smith) with five to go and anytime I try to make a run to simulate it a little bit. It’s hard to say. I could build a big enough run to get up to his rear quarter panel I could have got a shot at it. The #4 (Nemechek) truck pushed me out and gave me a big advantage there at the end.

“My crew chief Marty Lindley put me in a perfect spot. We were running in the twenties for most of the race to try to stay safe. I knew strategy was going to have to take us to the front. Marty did a great job, so did my whole KBM #51 JBL Tundra TRD Pro crew. Just such a phenomenal job by these guys. They really helped me at the end.

“[Winning at a home track] super special. I’ve been in Victory Lane here a bunch of times as a kid racing Bandoleros. It was such a dream to come back here and win a race. It’s surreal. It hasn’t sunk in. Just unbelievable to be here.”

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
11951Corey HeimKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota135Running
21599Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota135Running
3466Ty MajeskiThorSport RacingToyota135Running
4118Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota135Running
52538Zane SmithFront Row MotorsportsFord135Running
6252Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota135Running
71117Ryan PreeceDavid Gilliland RacingFord135Running
8915Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord135Running
91819Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingChevrolet135Running
10722Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet135Running
111016Tyler AnkrumHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota135Running
12823Grant EnfingerGMS RacingChevrolet135Running
132224Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet135Running
142061Chase PurdyHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota135Running
153402Jesse LittleYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet135Running
161698Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota135Running
172933Chris HackerReaume Brothers RacingToyota135Running
18333Jordan AndersonJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet135Running
193146Matt JaskolG2G RacingToyota135Running
203012Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
212144Kris WrightNiece MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
222356Timmy HillHill MotorsportsToyota134Running
233641Ross Chastain*Niece MotorsportsChevrolet133Tyre
24124John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota133Running
25388Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota133Running
262691Colby HowardMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingChevrolet133Running
27542Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet132Running
283547Brennan Poole*G2G RacingToyota130Running
29329Blaine PerkinsCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet126Running
30625Matt DiBenedettoRackley WARChevrolet123Running
311730Tate FoglemanOn Point MotorsportsToyota91Accident
322843Thad MoffittGMS Racing with Reaume Brothers RacingChevrolet79Engine
332445Lawless AlanNiece MotorsportsChevrolet75Accident
341340Dean ThompsonNiece MotorsportsChevrolet68Accident
351420Matt Mills*Young’s MotorsportsChevrolet52Suspension
36271Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord24Tyre
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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