The early bird got the victory on Saturday afternoon at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

In a long green-flag run to start the final stage of the Toyota 200 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race, Corey Heim brought his No. 11 TRICON Garage Tundra to pit road before any of the other top trucks made green-flag stops, and the move paid off with optimum track position.

Heim held the top spot for a restart on Lap 138 of 160 and led the rest of the way, beating runner-up Christian Eckes to the finish line by 1.854 seconds, earning a $50,000 bonus as the winner of the second leg of the Triple Truck Challenge.

The victory was a welcome turnaround after Heim‘s truck was disqualified from second place May 24 at Charlotte for three lug nuts not safe and secure. Heim won for the fourth time this season—all within the last eight races—the second time at Gateway and the ninth time in 53 career starts.

“Total team effort today,” Heim asserted. “We struggled a bit yesterday (in practice and qualifying) and worked a bit overnight on it. I have to say the pit crew redeemed themselves. Last week we could have won the race, and they made some mistakes, but they redeemed themselves today, and that‘s what it‘s all about.”

Heim started ninth and finished fifth in the first two stages. After a quick pit stop at the Stage 2 break, Heim restarted third on Lap 78 and grabbed the lead before the end of the circuit. He held the top spot until he pitted on Lap 115, one lap earlier than pole winner Ty Majeski who was chasing him in second place.

Vicente Salas‘ spin on Lap 129 interrupted the cycle of green-flag stops, but Heim regained the lead on Lap 134 when drivers who had not yet pitted brought their trucks to pit road under the caution. Heim battled Majeski on the Lap 138 restart and prevailed.

“Corey was a little bit better, and I knew it,” said Majeski, who swept the first two stages and led 43 laps to Heim‘s race-high 65. “I thought if I could get track position on him, maybe I could hold him off. I threw it into Turn 1, and he cleared me off of 2, and I had a couple other opportunities.

“I got into him a little bit. Probably needed a little bit harder for me to get enough of a run to get side-by-side with him down the back. But, yeah, just a little bit short balance-wise. Sometimes when you‘re the best truck in the beginning of the race, you‘re gun-shy to make changes.”

Majeski faded to fourth in the final 23 laps, losing positions to Eckes and third-place finisher Nick Sanchez on lap 151.

Eckes lost track position with a slow pit stop in the second stage break, restarted 11th on Lap 78 and finished second at Gateway for the third straight year.

“I definitely feel like we let that one slip,” Eckes said. “Disappointing, for sure… It sucks. I thought we had the best truck here.”

Layne Riggs finished fifth, followed by Chase Purdy, reigning series champion Ben Rhodes and Stewart Friesen. Two drivers making their series debuts—Andrés Pérez de Lara and Luke Fenhaus—came home ninth and 10th, respectively.

Note: The start of the race was delayed for two-and-a-half hours by rain… The final Triple Truck Challenge race is scheduled for June 28 at Nashville Superspeedway. Heim and Sanchez, last week‘s Charlotte winner, could collect an additional $100,000 as the winners of two of three events in “The Trip.” A $50,000 bonus is available to all other drivers.

— NASCAR Wire Service —

See race details at: Race Results, Driver Point Standings, Owner Point Standings, Cumulative Report, Penalty Report

See more information on the Gateway Race Page.

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