Corey Heim scores dominant Truck victory at North Wilkesboro

For the second time of the 2024 season, Corey Heim made it known to the NASCAR community that it is Heim Time after notching a dominant NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory in the rain-delayed Wright Brand 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday, May 19. 

The 21-year-old Heim from Marietta, Georgia, led twice for a race-high 66 of 250-scheduled laps in an event. He started 12th but quickly marched his way to the front as he spent the first stage period running inside the top five. Heim was scored in third place when the event was postponed from Saturday night to Sunday morning due to an ongoing increase of precipitation that flooded the circuit.

He spent the second stage period and a majority of the final stage period running towards the front until he muscled away from Jake Garcia to assume the lead during a late restart period with 65 laps remaining. After retaining the lead through another late-race restart period with 32 laps remaining, Heim pulled away from Grant Enfinger, rookie Layne Riggs and teammate/newcomer Brenden “Butterbean” Queen by as much as three seconds to score his third Craftsman Truck Series victory of the 2024 season and his first at North Wilkesboro.

The starting lineup for the event was determined through a metric system after the event’s on-track qualifying session scheduled to occur on Saturday morning was canceled due to precipitation. Through the metric, Christian Eckes, the current series’ regular-season leader in the standings, was awarded the pole position and he shared the front row with Nick Sanchez. 

When the green flag waved and the race started on Saturday, May 18, Eckes muscled his No. 19 Instacoat Premium Products Chevrolet Silverado RST ahead with the lead from the inside lane through the first two turns. As the field fanned out to multiple lanes through the backstretch, Eckes proceeded to lead the first lap while Ross Chastain overtook Sanchez to move into the runner-up spot. Tanner Gray would follow suit in his bid for third place along with Ty Dillon. As more battles within the field ensued, Eckes stretched his lead to more than a second by the fifth lap mark while Sammy Smith was penalized for a start violation, where he pulled his Spire Motorsports entry out of line. 

Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Eckes continued to extend his early advantage as he was leading by more than two seconds over Chastain followed by Tanner Gray, Dillon and Grant Enfinger while Corey Heim, Sanchez, Ben Rhodes, Ty Majeski and Taylor Gray were scored in the top 10 ahead of Jake Garcia, Daniel Dye, Chase Purdy, Lawless Alan and Bayley Currey. Behind, Tyler Ankrum, rookie Layne Riggs, Matt Mills, Brenden Queen and Rajah Caruth followed suit in the top 20 ahead of Stewart Friesen, Jack Wood, Mason Massey, Bret Holmes and Dean Thompson while Matt Crafton was mired in 27th.   

Ten laps later, Eckes stabilized his advantage to more than two seconds over Chastain while Tanner Gray, Dillon and Heim trailed by within three seconds in the top five on the track. Behind, Enfinger was trying to fend off Sanchez and Rhodes in sixth place while Majeski and Taylor Gray trailed in the top 10. 

Another 10 laps later, Eckes continued to lead by more than two seconds over Chastain while teammates Tanner Gray and Heim battled for third place, though both started to close in on Chastain for the runner-up spot, as Dillon trailed by three seconds in fifth place. Eckes’ would have his advantage slightly decrease to one-and-a-half seconds over Chastain by the Lap 40 mark while Heim closed in while running in third place. 

Just past the Lap 50 mark, Eckes retained the lead by seven-tenths of a second over Chastain while third-place Heim kept pace with the leaders as he trailed by a second. Behind, Tanner Gray trailed in fourth place by two seconds while Majeski was up to fifth ahead of Rhodes, Dillon, Sanchez, Taylor Gray and Jake Garcia. Meanwhile, Enfinger had fallen to 16th as he trailed Daniel Dye, Ankrum, Purdy, Riggs and Brenden Queen on the track. 

A few laps past the Lap 55 mark, the event’s first caution period flew due to precipitation being reported in the venue. During the caution period and with a flurry of pit strategies ensuing, a majority of the field led by Eckes pitted while the rest led by Majeski remained on the track. Amid the pit stops, Riggs was penalized for an uncontrolled tire violation while Friesen and Bayley Currey were both penalized for speeding on pit road. 

With three laps remaining in the first stage period, the event restarted under green. At the start, Majeski muscled his No. 98 Road Ranger Ford F-150 ahead of teammate Rhodes and managed to transition from the outside to the inside lane through the first two turns as he retained the lead through the backstretch. As Majeski slowly started to pull away, Rajah Caruth battled Rhodes for the runner-up spot while Heim was trying to overtake both teammate Taylor Gray and Dillon for positions on the track. 

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 70, Majeski claimed his third Truck stage victory of the 2024 season. Teammate Rhodes, racing with a damaged right-front fender after making contact with Bret Holmes earlier, settled in second while Caruth, Taylor Gray, Heim, Dillon, Eckes, Tanner Gray, Jack Wood and Ankrum were scored in the top 10. 

Under the stage break, some including Rhodes, Taylor Gray, Dillon and Wood pitted while the rest led by Majeski remained on the track. Amid the pit stops, Spencer Boyd lost a jack on the track after dragging it out of his pit stall and onto the track. 

Then on Lap 81, the field, led by Majeski was directed to pit road and the event was placed in a red flag period due to a lightning hold with lightning being reported near the circuit. With more lightning holds occurring along with a rapid increase of precipitation over the next several hours, NASCAR elected to postpone the remainder of the event to Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET on FS1. At the time of the red flag period, Majeski was scored the leader ahead of Caruth, Heim, Eckes and Tanner Gray while Ankrum, Chastain, Connor Jones, Sanchez and Jake Garcia were scored in the top 10. 

When the event restarted under green on Lap 86 on Sunday morning, Caruth muscled away from Majeski and the field from the outside lane to inherit the lead through the first two turns. As Caruth led the race, Ankrum challenged Majeski for the runner-up spot as Heim and Connor Jones joined the battle. Caruth would retain the lead past the Lap 90 mark while Majeski was trying to narrow the gap. 

Two laps later, however, the caution returned after Caruth, who was being pressured by Majeski for the lead through the first two turns, slid sideways and barely clipped Majeski before he spun his No. 71 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado RST from the middle to the bottom apron of Turn 2 without getting hit by incoming traffic. During the caution period, some including Ankrum, Garcia, Friesen, Caruth and Rhodes pitted while the rest led by Majeski and Heim remained on the track. Amid the pit stops, Friesen was penalized for speeding on pit road. 

As the event restarted under green on Lap 98, Majeski muscled away from Heim to retain the lead. Majeski, who would then fend off an early challenge from Heim for the lead, would proceed to lead at the Lap 100 mark while Heim, Eckes, Jones and Sanchez trailed in the top five. Majeski would stabilize his advantage to nearly half a second over Heim just past the Lap 110 mark as Eckes, Jones and Sanchez continued to trail in the top five.  

Following another caution period on Lap 116 due to Lawless Alan spinning in Turn 2, multiple competitors led by Majeski pitted while some led by Ankrum, who pitted during the initial caution period, remained on the track. During the next restart on Lap 123, Ankrum fended off Garcia and Jack Wood to retain the lead while Sanchez was penalized for changing lanes too soon. As the field behind jostled for spots, Ankrum would lead the halfway mark of the event on Lap 125 while Garcia, Friesen, Wood and Riggs trailed in the top five. 

Then on Lap 137, the caution flew after Bret Holmes spun and wrecked in Turn 2. Holmes’ incident was enough for the second stage period scheduled to conclude on Lap 140 to conclude under caution as Ankrum captured his second Truck stage victory of the 2024 season. Garcia followed suit in second along with Friesen, Wood, and Riggs while Rhodes, Eckes, Heim, Daniel Dye and Grant Enfinger were scored in the top 10. 

During the stage break, some including Matt Crafton, Dillon, Mason Massey, Matt Mills and Timmy Hill pitted while the rest led by Ankrum remained on the track. 

With 104 laps remaining, the final stage commenced as Ankrum and Garcia occupied the front row. At the start, Garcia muscled his No. 13 Quanta Services Ford F-150 way past Ankrum’s No. 18 LiUNA! Chevrolet Silverado RST and moved into the lead through the first two turns and the backstretch. Riggs then overtook Ankrum for the runner-up spot as Garcia retained the lead during the following lap.  

Down to the final 100 laps of the event, Garcia was leading by two-tenths of a second over Riggs followed by Ankrum, Rhodes and Heim while Friesen, Enfinger, Wood, Eckes and Dye trailed in the top 10. In addition, Dean Thompson occupied 11th place ahead of Sammy Smith, Caruth, Stefan Parsons and Tanner Gray while Taylor Gray, Brenden Queen, Dillon, Jones and Chastain followed suit in the top 20. 

Ten laps later, Garcia continued to lead by seven-tenths of a second over Riggs while Ankrum, Heim and Rhodes trailed in the top five. Garcia would proceed to lead by three-tenths of a second over Riggs with 80 laps remaining as Ankrum, Heim and Rhodes continued to trail in the top five. Another six laps later, the caution flew after Jones wrecked his No. 66 Farm Paint/ThorSport Racing entry in Turn 4. During the caution period, some including Wood, Caruth, Dillon, Parsons, Tanner Gray and Jones pitted while the rest led by Garcia remained on the track. 

With the event restarting under green with 66 laps remaining, Heim challenged Garcia for the lead and overtook him for the top spot during the following lap. With clean air to his advantage, Heim stretched his lead to more than a second over Garcia with 60 laps remaining while Riggs, Eckes and Brenden Queen trailed in the top five within three seconds. 

With 50 laps remaining, Heim extended his advantage to more than two seconds over Garcia as Riggs, Eckes and Queen trailed in the top five. Ankrum, Enfinger, Sammy Smith, Rhodes and Dye would trail in the top 10 as Heim stretched his lead to another second to three over Garcia with 40 laps remaining. 

A few laps later, the caution returned after Dean Thompson, who was running 12th, spun and barely avoided hitting the outside wall in Turn 2 as he was also dodged by Chastain. 

Down to the final 32 laps of the event, the event restarted under green as Heim muscled his No. 11 Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro away from Garcia and the field through the first two turns and the backstretch. Riggs would move into the runner-up spot over Garcia as both Enfinger and Eckes trailed in the top five ahead of Queen and Sammy Smith while Heim led by a second with 25 laps remaining.  

With less than 15 laps remaining, Heim stretched his advantage to more than two seconds over Riggs as Enfinger, Queen and Sammy Smith were scored in the top five ahead of Eckes, Sanchez, Ankrum, Dye and Garcia. Heim’s advantage grew to nearly three seconds over Riggs with 10 laps remaining while third-place Enfinger trailed by three seconds. 

Down to the final five laps, Heim continued to lead by more than three seconds over a three-truck battle for the runner-up spot involving Riggs, Enfinger and Queen while fifth-place Sammy Smith, who rallied from his opening lap penalty on Saturday, trailed by less than four seconds. Amid lapped traffic, Enfinger would overtake Riggs’ No. 38 Infinity Communications Group Ford F-150 for the runner-up spot while Queen tried to follow suit over Riggs. 

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Heim remained as the leader by more than three seconds over Enfinger’s No. 9 Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet Silverado RST. Despite having a flurry of lapped traffic in front of him, Heim utilized his large advantage to cruise around the North Wilkesboro circuit smoothly for a final time as he cycled back to the frontstretch to claim his third checkered flag of the 2024 Truck Series season. 

With the victory, Heim, who became the first three-time winner of this season, notched his seventh career win in the Craftsman Truck Series and his second in the previous three races after winning at Kansas Speedway earlier in May. Heim also joined an exclusive club of Truck Series competitors to win at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a list that includes Kyle Larson, Mark Martin and Mike Bliss as he delivered the third victory of the season for both TRICON Garage and Toyota.

NORTH WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 19: Corey Heim, driver of the #11 Safelite Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Wright Brand 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19, 2024 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images).

“That was crazy,” Heim said on FS1. “A crazy weekend with the weather and what not, but I knew since practice we had the speed. [I] Can’t say enough about these TRICON Garage guys. What a truck, what a weekend. I knew we had potential from practice and we put it all together and executed great today.” 

Both Enfinger and Riggs rallied from slow starts to this season by notching their first top-five runs in second and third, respectively. 

“Overall, [today provided] the best execution of the season,” Enfinger said. “This is the third time, second in a row, we brought a really good, fast Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet. We haven’t been performing to our ability or our standards earlier on in the year. I feel like last week at Darlington was the turning point in our season and I’m standing by that. Very, very proud of this truck, proud of our pit crew all year long. Finally, we have a little bit of results to show for it.” 

“We really needed this,” Riggs said. “We finally finished where we deserve to finish today. It was a great day for us and hopefully, we can just keep building this momentum.” 

Meanwhile, Brenden “Butterbean” Queen, a CARS Tour late model stock car standout from Chesapeake, Virginia, who notched four victories and settled in the runner-up spot in the 2023 standings, capitalized from being the fastest during Friday’s practice session by finishing in fourth place in his Truck Series debut while piloting the No. 1 Best Repair Company Toyota Tundra TRD Pro for TRICON Garage. The solid top-five result also occurred after Queen rallied from an early pit road speeding penalty as he received a standing ovation from the North Wilkesboro crowd.  

“Man, [this opportunity]’s what I’ve worked for my whole life and never knew if I’d get this opportunity,” Queen said. “I’m just blessed, man, and I just hope I can turn this into some more opportunities. I love racing my late model, but this is my dream to get to the next level. Those guys at the shop [TRICON Garage], they put the hours in and that’s why this truck’s fast. I’m the lucky guy that gets to hold the wheel…I’d love to be full-time [NASCAR racing] next year.” 

Sammy Smith settled in fifth place while Eckes, Sanchez, Ankrum, Daniel Dye and Friesen finished in the top 10. Notably, Ty Majeski ended up 11th ahead of Jack Wood, Taylor Gray, Rajah Caruth and Ross Chastain. In addition, Jake Garcia drifted back to 21st ahead of Ben Rhodes while Matt Crafton settled in 20th.

There were seven lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured seven cautions for 58 laps. In addition, 26 of 36 starters finished on the lead lap. 

Following the 10th event of the 2024 Craftsman Truck Series season, Christian Eckes leads the regular-season standings by four points over Corey Heim, 64 over Ty Majeski, 66 over Nick Sanchez and 98 over Taylor Gray. 

Results:

1. Corey Heim, 66 laps led 

2. Grant Enfinger 

3. Layne Riggs 

4. Brenden Queen 

5. Sammy Smith 

6. Christian Eckes, 62 laps led 

7. Nick Sanchez 

8. Tyler Ankrum, 26 laps led, Stage 2 winner 

9. Daniel Dye 

10. Stewart Friesen 

11. Ty Majeski, 50 laps led, Stage 1 winner 

12. Jack Wood 

13. Taylor Gray 

14. Rajah Caruth, six laps led 

15. Ross Chastain 

16. Tanner Gray 

17. Stefan Parsons 

18. Matt Mills 

19. Bayley Currey 

20. Matt Crafton 

21. Jake Garcia, 40 laps led 

22. Ben Rhodes 

23. Mason Massey 

24. Chase Purdy 

25. Ty Dillon 

26. Timmy Hill 

27. Dean Thompson, one lap down 

28. Dawson Sutton, two laps down 

29. Bret Holmes, three laps down 

30. Lawless Alan, four laps down 

31. Thad Moffitt, five laps down 

32. Spencer Boyd, five laps down 

33. Josh Reaume, five laps down 

34. Clayton Green, five laps down 

35. Connor Jones – OUT, Accident 

36. Trey Hutchens – OUT, Transmission 

Next on the 2024 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule is the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The event is scheduled to occur next Friday, May 24, and air at 8:30 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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