Corey Heim‘s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship hopes went around when he was spun by Carson Hocevar during the final race at Phoenix Raceway last Friday, and he returned the favour by taking Hocevar out. On Wednesday, NASCAR added insult to injury by deducting twenty-five points from his final total and fining him USD$12,500 (€11,673.19).
Hocevar bumped into Heim on lap 121, spinning him but not taking him out of the race. Nevertheless, Heim retaliated with three laps remaining by squeezing Hocevar into the wall, causing both to hit the barrier; the contact forced Hocevar to retire, while Heim’s truck was damaged but continued. A myriad of overtimes and additional crashes allowed Heim to salvage a top twenty as he finished eighteenth, albeit still third in the championship behind Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger.
While Hocevar apologised for the initial spin, admitting he “just messed up,” Heim seemingly refused to accept it. He stressed that he did not intentionally force Hocevar into the wall, having just “lost all my sideforce and lost control.”
“He obviously screwed up, just wrecked me,” Heim continued. “I’ve been racing Carson for a long time, racing him since I was eight or nine years old, and that’s just kind of what he does. He’ll wreck you and apologise, and then he’ll do it again the next week. It’s not going to be the last time he does it, and it’s certainly not the first time he’s done it. Known him for a long time, and I know a lot of guys have only known him for four years as far as his racing career, but it’s been a decade on top of that.
“It is what it is. I completely expected it. I actually drove into 1 way past my lifting point to avoid that contact because I literally saw it coming, but he went that extra yard and got us.”
NASCAR obviously did not accept Heim’s rationale and penalised him as for “wrecking or spinning another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.” Since both drivers were in the Championship Round, the rulebook also mentions “attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship” as a liable cause.
With the penalty, Heim falls from third to fourth in points, last among the Championship Four. He ends the sason with 3,994 points, fourteen behind Hocevar. Heim had won the regular season title.