With a sixth-place finish in the Worldwide Express 250 at Richmond Raceway, Corey Heim was named the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Regular Season Championship recipient on Saturday, July 29.
The 21-year-old Heim from Marietta, Georgia, entered Saturday’s event at Richmond, the final regular-season event on the schedule, with a 42-point advantage over reigning series champion Zane Smith. Needing 19 points to clinch the regular-season title, he accomplished the feat early in a night where he rolled off the grid starting alongside pole-sitter Ty Majeski on the front row. Despite being overtaken by Ben Rhodes during the opening lap, Heim would retain third place throughout the first stage period spanning 70 laps and clinch the title with his top-three result.
After clinching the regular-season title, Heim proceeded to lead nine laps in the second stage amid more battles involving ThorSport Racing’s Majeski and Rhodes before he recorded another top-three result and additional stage points at the second stage’s conclusion. At the start of the final stage period, Heim fell back to fourth as Carson Hocevar, the eventual winner of the event, joined the battle at the front. By then, Majeski was sent to the rear of the field for speeding on pit road. After pitting under green with select others with less than 40 laps remaining, Heim found himself mired outside of the top 10, but he was able to methodically cycle his way back into the top 10 before finishing the event in sixth place, which marked his 13th top-10 result in 15 regular-season starts. The result was enough for him to remain in first place in the regular-season standings by 51 points over Ty Majeski and 55 over Zane Smith, both of whom finished second and third, respectively.
With his accomplishment, Heim became the seventh different competitor to win a Craftsman Truck Series Regular Season Championship title, joining a list that includes Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger, Austin Hill, John Hunter Nemechek and Zane Smith. By capturing this year’s regular-season title, Heim was awarded the top seed to start the 2023 Truck Series Playoffs with 2,030 points and 30 Playoff points and enters as one of 10 competitors who will embark on a seven-race stretch to battle for the 2023 Truck Series title, beginning at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Brownsburg, Indiana, on August 11.
“Yeah, tough night tonight, for sure,” Heim said on FS1. “Definitely not letting [the finish] overshadow the phenomenal regular season we had as a team. We came from a long way to start the year. I feel like we needed a lot the first couple of weeks, but made so much progress within our TRICON Garage team with Toyota Racing. Our Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, throughout the year, was really good. [Tonight’s] JBL Tundra TRD Pro needed some work tonight, but definitely, just a lot of progress made. Just super proud of everyone that’s involved.”
Heim is campaigning in his first full-time season in the Truck Series a year after competing in 16 of 23 events in 2022 for Kyle Busch Motorsports, where he notched his first two career victories in the series and claimed the Rookie-of-the-Year title. Piloting the No. 11 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro for TRICON Garage, a team that was rebranded from David Gilliland Racing prior to this season, and led by former championship-winning crew chief Scott Zipadelli, Heim commenced this season with an eighth-place result in the series’ rain-shortened opener at Daytona International Speedway in February. Six races and three additional top-10 results later, the Georgian notched his first victory of the season and the first for TRICON at Martinsville Speedway in April after sweeping both stages and fending off former owner Kyle Busch to retain the lead when the event was shortened 76 laps of its scheduled distance due to precipitation.
After finishing in the runner-up spot at Kansas Speedway before finishing eighth at Darlington Raceway in eighth, both occurring after the Martinsville victory, Heim assumed the lead in the series standings for the first time in his career. Despite being absent for the series’ event at World Wide Technology Raceway in June due to an illness, where he was granted a waiver to still make this year’s Playoffs, he managed to remain in the points lead and he responded back with vengeance in early July by notching his second victory of the season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he led a race-high 30 of 67-scheduled laps. Prior to Richmond, Heim was coming off a runner-up result at Pocono Raceway after being overtaken by Kyle Busch on the final lap.
Through 34 career starts in the Truck Series, Heim has achieved four victories, five poles, 13 top-five results, 23 top-10 results, 479 laps led and an average-finishing result of 11.3. His current average-finishing result of this season is 7.1 on the strength of his two race victories, five stage victories, three poles, seven top-five results and 13 top-10 results.
In addition to his full-time Truck campaign, Heim has made his first three career starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Sam Hunt Racing, where his best on-track result is a 10th-place finish at Darlington in May. He is also a nine-time race winner in the ARCA Menards Series, with two of his victories occurring in back-to-back series season openers at Daytona in 2021 and 2022.
Corey Heim’s pursuit for his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship commences at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park on August 11. The event’s coverage is scheduled to commence at 9 p.m. ET on FS1.