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Corey Heim wins first Truck race in last-lap pass

The reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway is widely regarded as a cross between a standard intermediate oval and a superspeedway with its higher banking while retaining the original 1.5-mile length. Like a classic superspeedway finish, Corey Heim made a final-lap pass on Kyle Busch Motorsports team-mate Chandler Smith to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in just his fifth career start.

Smith, the most recent Truck race winner at Las Vegas a fortnight ago, started on the pole while Heim was further back nineteenth as a driver change between races (Kyle Busch finished second at Vegas) impacted his starting position in the qualifying formula. Stewart Friesen, who started second, took the lead on the first lap and led the entire opening stage to win ahead of Grant Enfinger, Derek Kraus, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton, Tanner Gray, Smith, Ross Chastain, John Hunter Nemechek, and Tyler Ankrum.

While the first stage did not see any cautions, Hailie Deegan‘s race ended when she suffered a flat tyre after contact from Colby Howard, eventually resulting in it catching fire. It has been a difficult West Coast stretch for Deegan, who crashed out at Las Vegas followed by her Mint 400 début last weekend being hampered by a power steering failure.

Deegan was not injured by the blaze and subsequently posted on social media, “Yes I’m okay now. Our truck and times were super fast. First flat was caused from the 91 plowing into me on lap 7 on the back stretch for no reason. I was on fire for multiple laps. I started suffocating and couldn’t breathe when the fire extinguisher and black smoke engulfed the truck on pit road. I couldn’t get out because I couldn’t see the window net. I declined my interview because I couldn’t say 2 worsd without coughing/choking”.

Save for a debris caution on lap 51, the second stage was also relatively clean. Nemechek won with Ty Majeski, Smith, Eckes, Ankrum, Crafton, Dean Thompson, Gray, Carson Hocevar, and Ryan Preece rounding out the top ten.

Despite receiving stage points, Eckes and Thompson’s day fell apart when they wrecked with Thompson’s Niece Motorsports team-mate Lawless Alan on lap 69. Additional cautions came for Tate Fogleman‘s spin, Gray crashing with Jordan Anderson and Fogleman, and another Niece casualty in Kris Wright.

At the front, Smith dominated the stage and seemed poised to win a second consecutive race. However, as the field ran single file coming to the finish, Heim received a strong push from KBM ally Nemechek—who was two laps down after having to pit for damage—to catch Smith as they approached turn one. The Heim/Nemechek duo pulled ahead and Nemechek defended for his team-mate as Heim pulled away for the win.

Heim, a Georgia native who is doing a part-time Truck schedule and finished second in the ARCA Menards Series championship in 2021, is the first driver to win the latter’s season opener at Daytona and a NASCAR national series race in the same year since his boss Kyle Busch did so in 2004 when he won five Xfinity Series events. Other instances include Joe Ruttman in 1982, Jeff Purvis in 1996, and Ryan Newman in 2001, all of whom also won in Xfinity meaning Heim is the only one to do so in the Trucks.

“I feel like our #51 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was really good,” said Heim. “It could suck up to the #18 (Smith) with five to go and anytime I try to make a run to simulate it a little bit. It’s hard to say. I could build a big enough run to get up to his rear quarter panel I could have got a shot at it. The #4 (Nemechek) truck pushed me out and gave me a big advantage there at the end.

“My crew chief Marty Lindley put me in a perfect spot. We were running in the twenties for most of the race to try to stay safe. I knew strategy was going to have to take us to the front. Marty did a great job, so did my whole KBM #51 JBL Tundra TRD Pro crew. Just such a phenomenal job by these guys. They really helped me at the end.

“[Winning at a home track] super special. I’ve been in Victory Lane here a bunch of times as a kid racing Bandoleros. It was such a dream to come back here and win a race. It’s surreal. It hasn’t sunk in. Just unbelievable to be here.”

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 19 51 Corey Heim Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota 135 Running
2 15 99 Ben Rhodes ThorSport Racing Toyota 135 Running
3 4 66 Ty Majeski ThorSport Racing Toyota 135 Running
4 1 18 Chandler Smith Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota 135 Running
5 25 38 Zane Smith Front Row Motorsports Ford 135 Running
6 2 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota 135 Running
7 11 17 Ryan Preece David Gilliland Racing Ford 135 Running
8 9 15 Tanner Gray David Gilliland Racing Ford 135 Running
9 18 19 Derek Kraus McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet 135 Running
10 7 22 Austin Wayne Self AM Racing Chevrolet 135 Running
11 10 16 Tyler Ankrum Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota 135 Running
12 8 23 Grant Enfinger GMS Racing Chevrolet 135 Running
13 22 24 Jack Wood GMS Racing Chevrolet 135 Running
14 20 61 Chase Purdy Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota 135 Running
15 34 02 Jesse Little Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 135 Running
16 16 98 Christian Eckes ThorSport Racing Toyota 135 Running
17 29 33 Chris Hacker Reaume Brothers Racing Toyota 135 Running
18 33 3 Jordan Anderson Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet 135 Running
19 31 46 Matt Jaskol G2G Racing Toyota 135 Running
20 30 12 Spencer Boyd Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 134 Running
21 21 44 Kris Wright Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 134 Running
22 23 56 Timmy Hill Hill Motorsports Toyota 134 Running
23 36 41 Ross Chastain* Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 133 Tyre
24 12 4 John Hunter Nemechek Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota 133 Running
25 3 88 Matt Crafton ThorSport Racing Toyota 133 Running
26 26 91 Colby Howard McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet 133 Running
27 5 42 Carson Hocevar Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 132 Running
28 35 47 Brennan Poole* G2G Racing Toyota 130 Running
29 32 9 Blaine Perkins CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet 126 Running
30 6 25 Matt DiBenedetto Rackley WAR Chevrolet 123 Running
31 17 30 Tate Fogleman On Point Motorsports Toyota 91 Accident
32 28 43 Thad Moffitt GMS Racing with Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet 79 Engine
33 24 45 Lawless Alan Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 75 Accident
34 13 40 Dean Thompson Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 68 Accident
35 14 20 Matt Mills* Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 52 Suspension
36 27 1 Hailie Deegan David Gilliland Racing Ford 24 Tyre
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points

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