Corey Heim swoops in for overtime truck win at Gateway
Brenden Martin recaps the 2022 Camping World Truck Series Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway where Corey Heim earned his second win this season.
Pole-sitter Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Corey Heim wheeled his way back to the front in a crazy overtime finish in the 2022 Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
A part-time racer for KBM, Heim earned his second truck win of the season and his career as he also took the win in the Fr8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
KBM looked to be the top dog in what started as a clean race.
10 laps in, KBM Toyota Tundras ran 1-2-3 with Heim up front, No. 18 Chandler Smith and No. 4 John Hunter Nemechek leading the way.
Smith took the lead from Heim on lap 18 with 18 laps to go in Stage 1. Yes, the No. 18 car took the lead on lap 18 and 18 laps before the end of the stage that he would go on to win without a caution coming out.
The other two KBM cars finished the stage right behind Heim, but that would not stay the case for much longer after. GMS Racing No. 23 Grant Enfinger elected to take two tires after the first stage to break up the KBM party.
Enfinger took the inside at the choose cone, a decision he would regret as Smith took the lead back from him off Turn 2 on the restart.
The first caution for cause came on lap 46 when ThorSport Racing No. 66 Ty Majeski turned David Gilliland Racing No. 17 Taylor Gray and ended his race. The incident would mark the first of many for Majeski, who was the fastest driver in practice.
Majeski also was on the bad end of the following caution on Lap 54 when Nemechek tried to make a three-wide pass on the inside of Heim and No. 52 Stewart Friesen. Nemechek hit the wall and suffered a mechanical issue that led to him going to the garage and not finishing while the wreck stacked up the field and caused Majeski, Young’s Motorsports No. 02 Jessie Little and McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 91 Colby Howard to collide.
The battles up front only grew more contentious as Enfinger continued to run on just two fresh tires. The grip gave out for him, however, on Lap 62 when he spun and hit the wall hard after causing Smith to spin as well.
This was where pit road strategy began to split as Stage 2 came to an end. ThorSport Racing No. 99 Ben Rhodes was next in line for the lead after the wreck up front and decided to stay out with two laps to go in the stage. Rhodes hung on to win his season-leading seventh stage of the year to add to his regular season points lead that he grew on Nemechek after his race ended.
The split pit strategy put Niece Motorsports No. 42 Carson Hocevar in the lead and David Gilliland racing No. 1 Hailee Deegan alongside him on the front row to start the final stage.
Deegan’s best career finish came at WWT Raceway last season when she finished seventh. She achieved her season-best finish of 15th this time around.
“I felt like we had some of our best laps here at Gateway ever,” Deegan said.
Niece Motorsports No. 44 Kris Wright brought out the next caution on Lap 94 with a big crash into Turn 3. As lack of tires became a factor at this point. Almost every truck came down pit road to take their last set of sticker tires while Friesen was the only one to stay out as he had pitted after Stage 2 due to a flat tire he sustained from contact with Deegan.
Spire Motorsports No. 7 Rajah Caruth — making his first career truck series start — was running near the top 10 for most of the day until a pit road speeding penalty forced him to fight his way back to the top 10. He fell one spot short of that in 11th.
“I feel like I got a lot of things I need to work on but overall, a solid day,” Caruth said.
The top 10 saw a handful of surprising names. ThorSport Racing No. 13 Johnny Sauter finished fifth making a part-time start for his former full-time team. Rackley WAR No. 25 Matt DiBenedetto came in sixth as he looked to put the “up” in an up-and-down season to reach the playoffs.
Another surprise name that was in strong contention to win and shake up the playoffs was McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 19 Derek Kraus. Entering the race 52 points below the playoff cutline, Kraus is in must-win territory to make the Round of 10 next month.
Kraus restarted on the front row next to Rhodes with 46 laps to go and held serve until an ensuing restart 15 laps later.
After a caution flag for debris with 29 laps to go, Kraus chose to take the inside on the restart to once again challenge Rhodes. With 19 laps to go, the No. 19 of Kraus passed Rhodes for the lead on the outside as Rhodes dealt with radio issues.
Kraus was the fifth-fastest car in practice on Friday but had to start last due to unapproved adjustments. He worked his way to the front and held the lead for 12 laps before ThorSport Racing No. 98 Christian Eckes slowly crept up on him and took the lead with seven laps to go.
“Eckes is going to win this race,” Kurt Busch said in the Fox Sports Booth.
Unfortunately for Eckes, who was leading at the white flag in the last two races, the caution flag came out with three laps to go as David Gilliland Racing No. 15 Tanner Gray wrecks after dealing with damage sustained after getting into McAnally-Hilgemann Racing No. 35 Jake Garcia, another driver making his truck debut and running in the top 15.
Bob Pockrass @bobpockrassTanGray hits wall with two laps to go. Going to overtime.
Eckes chose the outside on the restart and Kraus elected to start behind thinking the outside will work better. That allowed Heim to restart on the inside of the front row and had his teammate Smith start right behind him to push.
Smith worked his way back near the front after the incident with Enfinger earlier.
“To be honest with you if the 23 [Enfinger] didn’t run out of talent there in Stage 2 or whenever it was we’d probably have lapped half the field easily,” Smith said to Fox Sports’ Jamie Little. “Our truck was stupid, stupid good.”
Eckes didn’t get a good overtime restart. Heim rolled across the start\finish line first, causing NASCAR to review the start but to no further action.
“I spun the tires a little bit and the 19 [Brandon Jones] picked my rear wheels off the ground… just didn't get a good launch.”
“I couldn’t believe I got the bottom right there, that’s unbelievable,” Heim said to Fox Sports’ Regan Smith. “Great push by my teammate Chandler Smith right there.”
Heim took the white flag and was leading when the caution came out for a hard wreck involving Hocevar, AM Racing No. 22 Austin Wayne Self and Hill Motorsports No. 5 Tyler Hill.
Hill T-boned Hocevar, who gave the thumbs up as he was removed from his truck on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
Bob Pockrass @bobpockrassLate wreck was Hocevar and TyHill and Self
“It was definitely one of the harder hits I think I’ve taken,” Hill said to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass.
Heim’s win didn’t change the overall playoff outlook too much, but a handful of drivers got the results they needed to improve their chances with five races to go in the regular season.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will continue on Saturday, June 11 for the DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway, a road course in Sonoma, California. Coverage of the race can be seen on Fox Sports 1 and can be listened to on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.