As Herman’s Hermits sang in 1965, when summarizing Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona, it was indeed “second verse, same as the first.”
While some of the players may have changed, the dominant performer and winner remained the same. Corey Heim, driving a partial ARCA Menards Series schedule for Venturini Motorsports, replicated his 2021 exploits with a masterclass victory.
Starting from the pole with a time of 49.15 seconds, 183.113 mph, Heim rarely found himself in the hornet’s nest. In fact, he likely resembled arcade gamers enjoying laps around Daytona in the infamous No. 41 Hornet stock car.
In this case, Heim’s familiar No. 20 Toyota Camry was like the lead locomotive around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. The 19-year-old from Marietta, Georgia was in command all afternoon long, showcasing his smooth, mature focus like a stock car veteran.
Naturally, Heim had a good drafting partner in the form of 20-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunfels, Texas. The sports car racer was adept in the lead pack as an affable ally to Heim.
“Yeah, I mean, 100%. We had a sit down meeting about a week before the race to kind of discuss, especially Parker (Chase) and Toni (Breidinger) about just how to work together with teammates, because if you don’t, you’re not ever going to be in a position to win the race.
So, you know, Gus Dean had a lot of prior experience coming into this race. So, you know, he kind of knew what he was doing. But Parker did a phenomenal job today. He was my main source of help, and I couldn’t have done without him.”
Prior to the race’s competition caution, Eric Caudell, driver of the No. 7 Ford Fusion, spun around turns 3 and 4. Otherwise, it was a smooth opening 40 laps before drivers and teams pitted during the competition yellow.
Once the race resumed green flag action, Heim resumed his conductor role at the front of the field. However, with 30 laps remaining, the caution came out for a backstretch incident involving Jason Kitzmiller.
Despite the caution flag, an unusual incident in turn 3 transpired involving Dave Mader, who seemed to push Gus Dean which resulted in Greg Van Alst and Andy Jankowiak being victims of circumstances. Mader, Dean, Alst and Jankowiak rejoined the fray following the dustup in turn 3.
With 19 laps left, the action resumed with Heim continuing to lead before a caution with five laps remaining as multiple drivers stalled on the track.
Before the race resumed for its final restart of the afternoon, Tim Richmond, one of the race’s Cinderella stories, relinquished his third place running spot when he had to pit after running out of fuel. Richmond’s promising Saturday afternoon went from a podium finish to an 18th place result.
Heim led the field on the final restart with one lap remaining, hitting his marks and seeing nothing but the road to another Daytona checkered flag.
On the other hand, Drew Dollar, one of the frontrunners, made contact with Toni Breidinger before hitting the backstretch wall in intense fashion. Dollar’s bid for an ARCA Daytona win was all for naught although he has another shot at a “World Center of Racing” win in Saturday night’s Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner 300.
Ultimately, Heim prevailed with Parker Chase and Daniel Dye earning podiums. Sean Corr, Gus Dean, Jankowiak, Mason Diaz, Mader, Breidinger and Ryan Huff rounded out the top-10.
Luis Torres contributed this report on-site at Daytona International Speedway at Daytona Beach, Florida.