Corey Heim prevailed at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway late Friday night to earn his first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series victory of the season after persevering through both rain and dry conditions, two red flag periods for weather and multiple charges by the highly-motivated veteran Kyle Busch.
The 20-year old Georgia-native, Heim, led his first laps of the 2023 season at exactly the right time — holding the point for an impressive 82 of the 124 laps of the Long John Silver‘s 200. Including the most important lap.
An accident with 85 laps remaining brought out the yellow flag and after several circuits under caution, NASCAR brought the trucks to pit road where the red flag flew for rain and the race was declared official on lap 124 of the scheduled 200 laps.
“Rain, rain, come on,‘‘ Heim told his TRICON Garage crew on the radio, just before climbing out of his No. 11 Toyota truck during that final red flag period.
“This race was cut short and that‘s definitely unfortunate, but this truck was fast all night,‘‘ he said adding, “I couldn‘t ask for a better group of guys.‘‘
Heim had to work for this, holding off Busch — who was racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports‘ 100th win — and reigning series champion Zane Smith on four different re-starts to claim the famed one-of-a-kind grandfather clock Martinsville trophy only minutes before that clock would strike midnight.
“We just didn‘t have a good enough short run truck,‘‘ said Busch, who finished second. “Being a little bit loose and free that we were, we were hoping that would pay off in the long run but never had a long run. The longest run of the race was on rain tires.
“It did not go our way today, unfortunately.‘‘
Heim swept both stage wins — his first of the season as well.
“I bring a 100-percent effort to every race every week so to be able to sit here and have it pay off is phenomenal,‘‘ Heim said.
Smith finished third in the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford with ThorSports Racing‘s Ty Majeski and Heim‘s TRICON teammate Tanner Gray rounding out the top five.
Ben Rhodes, Matt DiBenedetto, Taylor Gray, William Sawalich and Chase Purdy completed the top 10. It was the 18-year old Sawalich‘s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut — helping the TRICON team to four top-10 finishes.
Majeski maintains the points-lead after Martinsville by 26 points over Smith and 49 over Rhodes.
The trucks take a couple weeks off and will return to competition on May 6, at Kansas Speedway in the Heart of America 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
— NASCAR Wire Service —
See race information on the Martinsville race page.