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Corey Heim Rolls Away To Snatch Top Five At Richmond

Corey Heim rockets through the corners in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

RICHMOND, Va. — Easter weekend kicked off with a bang as Corey Heim finished fourth during the ToyotaCare 250. The short track was bustling early with activity Saturday morning with a full field of cars running practice followed by qualifying.

For the Toyota driver, Heim won at COTA the prior weekend with his main team, TRICON Garage. Behind the wheel of the No. 11 Safelite Autoglass Toyota Tundra, he finished no worse than sixth in the 2024 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. With such promising stats, racing in XFINITY would be the next great challenge.

Sam Hunt Racing answered the call for the Marietta, Georgia, native.

The No. 26 GearWrench Toyota in 2024 started in two prior races with Heim behind the wheel with the LiUNA! NASCAR XFINITY Series Race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Every Dig. Every Time 200 at Phoenix Raceway. Finishing 13th in Las Vegas, he struggled at Phoenix, starting from the third position before finishing in 22nd place.

With steep competition, Saturday morning’s practice session took place in cold weather conditions. Not only did it take a couple of laps to warm up the tires, but it made the cars more difficult to gauge with adjustments, as the race’s temperatures would reach the 70s.

Still, Heim was focused, hammering down his vehicle’s handling as the minutes ticked by. He was the 20th fastest, holding back until the qualifying session. Picking up the momentum, Heim pounced, capturing a sixth place starting position. With an exceptional result, the ball kept rolling.

Corey Heim’s No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing team services his Toyota GR Supra during Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

Tire strategies came into play early during Stage 1 as an unexpected caution was brought out by a multi-car wreck. It caused the field to split, with some snagging fresh tires, while others remained out.

Heim stayed out as he gaind a couple of spots until the stage ended. Starting in third, a malfunctioning jack would mess up an otherwise perfect pit stop, causing the Toyota driver to tumble back to the top 15. 

Being a resilient driver, Heim pushed ahead and climbed through the field, ending Stage 2 in fifth. There was a broad range of pit strategies occurring, scrambling his Stage 3 starting position back in the 20s.

Yet again, with determination and tenacity he pulled ahead, zipping up to the top 10. Another wreck brought out the yellow on Lap 174 involving Dawson Cram and Joey Gase. Spicy pit stops would have Heim starting in the 20s as he opted for fuel and four tires.

It was the correct call, as the race would go green the rest of the way, and drivers who took only two fresh tires would crumble. Leading the way for those racing with fresh tires was Chandler Smith as he captured his second straight XFINITY win at Richmond and second of the year.

Heim’s top five finish will be used as momentum going into next week’s races at Martinsville, participating in both the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN and XFINITY series’ tussle at the paperclip track. 

“It’s going to be real tough considering it’s a double header for me…I think we made a lot of momentum with the win at COTA and the top five today,” Heim said. “I know I have two great teams (caring) over me at the doubleheader, and I’m excited to see what we got.”

With such passion and focus, it will be thrilling to see what is in store for the Toyota driver, as he continues to achieve and improve on his overall goals within NASCAR as a whole.

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