Corey Heim benefits in overtime to claim second Truck Series career victory at Gateway

A late caution, a given lane choice to restart on the bottom lane on the front row and a well-executed launch during an overtime shootout fell into the hands of Corey Heim as he fended off Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith to win the Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway on Saturday, June 4.

The 19-year-old Heim from Marietta, Georgia, led twice for 20 of 165 over-scheduled laps as he benefitted through the overtime shootout and retaining the lead at the moment of caution due to a multi-truck wreck on the final lap to achieve his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career victory in his ninth series start.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, rookie Corey Heim secured his first pole position after recording a pole-winning lap at 138.232 mph in 32.554 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Zane Smith, who clocked in a fast qualifying lap at 137.978 in 32.614 seconds.

When the green flag waved and the race started, Heim pulled ahead on the outside lane followed by teammate Chandler Smith while teammate John Hunter Nemechek also made his way into the top three ahead of Zane Smith, Ty Majeski and Stewart Friesen. With the field settling in a long single-file line, Heim led the first lap followed by his two Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates.

Through the first five scheduled laps, Heim retained the lead ahead of Chandler Smith, Nemechek, Zane Smith and Christian Eckes while Ty Majeski, Friesen, Grant Enfinger, Colby Howard and Matt Crafton were in the top 10.

By Lap 10, Heim continued to lead by two-tenths of a second over Chandler Smith while Nemechek, Zane Smith and Eckes remained in the top five.

Ten laps later, Chandler Smith, who took over the lead two laps earlier, was out in front by eight-tenths of a second over Heim followed by Nemechek, Zane Smith, Eckes, Friesen, Majeski, Enfinger, Crafton and Colby Howard.

At the Lap 30 mark, Chandler Smith extended his advantage by more than two seconds over Heim. Behind, Nemechek remained in third followed by Zane Smith and Friesen while Eckes was back in sixth.

When the first stage concluded on Lap 35, Chandler Smith notched his first stage victory of the season. Teammate Heim settled in second followed by teammate Nemechek, Zane Smith, Friesen, Majeski, Enfinger, Eckes, Crafton and Colby Howard.

Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Enfinger, who opted for a two-tire pit stop, exited in first place followed by Chandler Smith, Heim, Nemechek, Eckes, Friesen and Zane Smith.

The second stage started on Lap 43 as Enfinger and Chandler Smith occupied the front row. At the start, Chandler Smith gained the advantage on the outside lane to reassume the lead while Enfinger settled in second in front of Heim, Nemechek and Eckes.

Three laps later, the caution flew when Majeski turned Taylor Gray and sent Gray into the outside wall in Turn 2. At the same time, Rajah Caruth, a full-time ARCA Menards Series competitor who was making his Truck debut for Spire Motorsports, spun while avoiding Gray’s truck.

When the race restarted under green on Lap 52, Chandler Smith pulled ahead and retained the lead ahead of Enfinger while Heim challenged Enfinger for the runner-up spot. Behind, Friesen battled and overtook Nemechek for fourth place as the field behind jostled for positions.

A lap later, the caution flew for a multi-truck wreck that erupted when Nemechek made contact with Friesen entering Turns 3 and 4, which sent Nemechek’s No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro sideways in the middle of oncoming traffic. Nemechek’s spin ignited a chain reaction wreck that collected Majeski, Colby Howard, Jesse Little and Blaine Perkins, with Nemechek sustaining damage after hitting the wall before getting hit by both Perkins and Howard. The damage was enough to terminate Nemechek’s following a seven-race span of finishing no lower than sixth place.

When the race proceeded under green on Lap 59, Chandler Smith and Enfinger engaged in a heated duel for the lead for two laps until Enfinger got loose beneath Smith, which sent both competitors into the Turn 1 outside wall on Lap 61 with Enfinger sustaining significant damage to his No. 23 Champion Chevrolet Silverado RST while Smith emerged with minimal damage to his No. 18 Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.

Under caution, names like Rhodes, Crafton, Chase Purdy, Derek Kraus, Austin Wayne Self, Carson Hocevar, Tyler Hill, Brennan Poole, Dean Thompson, Hailie Deign and Rajah Caruth remained on the track while the rest pitted.

With two laps remaining in the second stage, the race restarted under green. At the start, Rhodes, who had taken the lead following Enfinger and Smith’s wreck, managed to fend off teammate Crafton and the field to retain the lead. With a series of battles occurring behind him, Rhodes remained out in front during the shootout as he claimed his seventh stage victory of the season on Lap 70. Teammate Crafton settled in second ahead of Kraus, Purdy, Self, Hocevar, Deegan, Friesen, Heim and Zane Smith. During the stage break, Friesen ran into the side of Deegan’s truck to his displeasure for being squeezed into the outside wall by Deegan during the shootout.

Under the stage break, some like Rhodes pitted while the rest led by Carson Hocevar remained on the track.

With 83 laps remaining, the final stage started as Hocevar and Hailie Deegan occupied the front row. At the start, Hocevar pulled ahead of Deegan to lead entering the first turn until Heim challenged Hocevar for the top spot. Hocevar, however, received a push from Zane Smith through Turn 2 to retain the lead for a lap until Smith challenged Hocevar in a side-by-side battle for the lead for a full lap.

At the halfway mark on Lap 80, Zane Smith managed to clear Hocevar for the lead entering the first turn as he started to pull away while Heim, Eckes, Deegan and Caruth battled behind. Meanwhile, Johnny Sauter was in seventh ahead of Matt DiBenedetto, Chandler Smith and Tanner Gray.

Ten laps later, Zane Smith extended his advantage to two seconds over Eckes followed by Hocevar, Heim and Sauter while Caruth, Chandler Smith, DiBenedetto, Tanner Gray and Deegan were in the top 10.

Another three laps later, the caution flew when Kris Wright got loose beneath Jordan Anderson and backed his truck into the outside wall in Turn 3. During the caution period, nearly the entire field led by Friesen pitted as Friesen inherited the lead while Hocevar exited pit road first. Following the pit stops, Caruth was penalized for speeding on pit road.

With 62 laps remaining, the race restarted under green as Friesen and Hocevar occupied the front row. At the start, Friesen took off with the lead on the outside lane followed by Rhodes while Hocevar was being pressured by Kraus for third place. Then in Turn 1, Hocevar, who made contact with Kraus in Turn 3 during the previous lap and was losing spots, rubbed fenders with Zane Smith as Smith fell off the pace with a flat right-front tire. 

As the field scrambled and jostled for positions, Friesen continued to lead by two-tenths of a second over Rhodes followed by Eckes, Kraus and Tanner Gray while Heim, DiBenedetto, Sauter, Jordan Anderson and rookie Jack Wood were in the top 10. Meanwhile, Hocevar was back in 11th ahead of Chandler Smith.

Then with 53 laps remaining, the caution returned when Crafton made contact and sent Hocevar for a spin through Turn 2. Under caution, some like Friesen pitted while the rest led by Rhodes remained on the track.

With 46 laps remaining, teammates Rhodes and Eckes led the field back to green flag racing as Rhodes retained the lead. Not long after, Kraus moved into the runner-up spot followed by Eckes. 

Down to the final 35 laps of the event, the caution flew when Colby Howard got loose, spun and got into the wall between Turns 1 and 2. At the time of caution, Rhodes was leading by nearly a second over Kraus followed by Eckes, Heim and Sauter.

When the race restarted under green four laps later, Rhodes rocketed away with the lead followed by teammate Eckes while Kraus and Heim battled for third place in front of DiBenedetto, Sauter and Chase Purdy. The caution, however, was quick to return with 29 laps remaining due to debris on the track and when Rajah Caruth got into the outside wall.

With 24 laps remaining, the race proceeded under green as teammates Rhodes and Eckes occupied the front row. At the start, Rhodes retained the lead while Kraus overtook Eckes for the runner-up spot in front of the field.

Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Rhodes was leading by two-tenths of a second over Kraus while Eckes, Heim and DiBenedetto occupied the top five. Sauter was in sixth ahead of Purdy, Chandler Smith, Crafton and Friesen while Hocevar, Anderson, Zane Smith, Tyler Ankrum and Tanner Gray were in the top 15.

Two laps later, Kraus moved his No. 19 NAPA Chevrolet Silverado RST into the lead over Rhodes followed by Eckes while Sauter intimidated Heim for fourth place.

Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Kraus extended his advantage to more than a second over Eckes while Rhodes, who fell back to third, radioed power issues to his truck.

Then with the laps dwindling, Eckes started to erase Kraus’ advantage with the former closing in on the latter. With six laps remaining and following a tight battle with Kraus, Eckes moved his No. 98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra TRD Pro into the lead in Turn 1. Though Kraus kept Eckes close within his sights, Eckes then started to pull away by nearly half a second under the final five laps.

Then with the field approaching the final two laps, the caution flew when Tanner Gray spun and wrecked in Turn 3. By then, Eckes had pulled away by more than a second over Kraus as the field was sent into overtime. 

Prior to the start of the first overtime attempt, Kraus surrendered the runner-up spot to restart on the outside lane behind Eckes, thus giving Heim and Chandler Smith the top-two starting spots on the inside lane with Heim restarting on the front row next to Eckes and with an opportunity to win.

At the start of the first overtime attempt, Heim received a push from teammate Chandler Smith that launched Heim’s No. 51 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro into the lead ahead of Eckes as he maintained the lead through the backstretch. By then, the restart was under review for Heim potentially jumping the start.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Heim was still out in front ahead of Eckes and Chandler Smith while Friesen was in fourth ahead of Hocevar and Kraus. Then in Turn 1, Hocevar spun after getting hit by Kraus before he was T-boned by Tyler Hill as Lawless Alan and Austin Wayne Self also wrecked. 

The carnage involving Hocevar was enough for the event to conclude under caution as Heim cycled his way back to the finish line and claim the victory under caution. By then, NASCAR deemed the final restart that was reviewed towards Heim to be clear with no penaltie and with Heim officially handed the victory.

With the victory, Heim claimed the first of three Triple Truck Challenge $50,000 bonuses and his second career win in the Camping World Truck Series after notching his first win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March.

Photo by Simon Scoggins for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“Yeah, I can’t believe I got the bottom [lane] right there [on the overtime restart],” Heim said on FS1. “That’s unbelievable. A great push by my teammate Chandler Smith right there. All the dedication to my team. These couple of weeks has been just everything. I’ve been putting in so much time and effort to improve my craft. Man, I’m out of breath right now. That was awesome. Anytime we can get the extra seat time is super important. I feel like I’m getting better every week, but like I said, everyone back at the shop, just phenomenal job.”

Eckes settled in second place while Chandler Smith, Friesen and Sauter finished in the top five.

“[I] Spun the tires a little bit and [Kraus] picked my rear wheels off the ground,” Eckes said. “Just didn’t get a good launch. Man, it’s just two of the last three races, we’ve been leading and the caution comes out late. It just sucks, but very proud of my ThorSport Racing team. Just really frustrating. The past three weeks, we should’ve won and we didn’t. We gotta go back to the drawing board and try to fix some stuff out.”

“To be honest with you, if [Enfinger] didn’t run out of talent there in Stage 2, we’d probably lapped half the field easily,” Chandler Smith said. “Our truck was stupid, stupid good. Hats off to [crew chief] Danny [Stockman Jr.], everybody at [Kyle Busch Motorsports]. They gave me a really fast Safelite/Charge Me Toyota Tundra. I honestly probably should’ve won the race, but got drove all the way into the fence once again. It is what it is. Glad to get a top three out of it, but definitely sucks.”

Matt DiBenedetto, Kraus, Rhodes, Zane Smith and Chase Purdy completed the top 10 while Rajah Caruth finished 11th in his Truck Series debut.

Following the event, Hocevar was airlifted to a local hospital for further evaluation following his hard wreck on the final lap.

There were 11 lead changes for nine different leaders. The race featured 11 cautions for 54 laps.

The second of three Triple Truck Challenge events of 2022 is next scheduled to occur at Nashville Superspeedway on June 24.

With five races remaining of the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season stretch, Ben Rhodes leads the regular season standings by 17 points over Chandler Smith, 21 over Zane Smith, 22 over John Hunter Nemechek and 24 over Stewart Friesen.

Ben Rhodes, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith, John Hunter Nemechek, Stewart Friesen are currently guaranteed spots for the 2022 Truck Playoffs based on winning at least once throughout the season while Christian Eckes, Ty Majeski, Carson Hocevar, Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger are above the top-10 cutline based on points. Derek Kraus trails the top-10 cutline to the Playoffs by 44 points, Tanner Gray trails by 48, Matt DiBenedetto trails by 59, Tyler Ankrum trails by 78 and Chase Purdy trails by 112.

Results.

1. Corey Heim, 20 laps led

2. Christian Eckes, nine laps led

3. Chandler Smith, 40 laps led, Stage 1 winner

4. Stewart Friesen, 13 laps led

5. Johnny Sauter

6. Matt DiBenedetto

7. Derek Kraus, 12 laps led

8. Ben Rhodes, 43 laps led, Stage 2 winner

9. Zane Smith, 16 laps led

10. Chase Purdy

11. Rajah Caruth

12. Matt Crafton

13. Tyler Ankrum

14. Dean Thompson

15. Hailie Deegan

16. Jordan Anderson

17. Timmy Hill

18. Lawless Alan

19. Jack Wood

20. Jesse Little 

21. Tate Fogleman

22. Blaine Perkins

23. Colby Howard

24. Carson Hocevar – OUT, Accident, eight laps led

25. Tyler Hill – OUT, Accident

26. Austin Wayne Self – OUT, Accident

27. Mason Maggio, one lap down

28. Grant Enfinger, two laps led, four laps led

29. Jake Garcia, four laps led

30. Tanner Gray – OUT, Accident

31. Spencer Boyd – OUT, Electrical

32. Ty Majeski, 29 laps down

33. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident

34. Brennan Poole – OUT, Rear gear

35. John Hunter Nemechek – OUT, Dvp

36. Taylor Gray – OUT, Accident

Next on the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule is the series’ return to Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, for the first time in 24 years. The event is scheduled to occur on Saturday, June 11, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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