TRUCK: Corey Heim earns Truck Series win with dramatic late pass

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — After stealing a victory last Saturday at Kansas Speedway, Christian Eckes got his pocket picked by Corey Heim on Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

On Lap 195 of 200 of the UNOH 200, Heim forced his way beneath Eckes’ No. 19 Chevrolet — with the lapped truck of Eckes’ TRICON Garage teammate, Tanner Gray, to the outside — took the lead and claimed the victory by .218 seconds over his disappointed rival.

With his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory of the season, his first at Bristol and the fifth of his career, Heim, the regular-season champion, moved one step closer to another possible title. The win propelled him into the Championship 4 race, scheduled for Nov. 3 at Phoenix Raceway.

“This is insane,” said Heim, who led only the last six laps. “I felt like I’ve given so many away this year, to win one like that at the end is so special. …

“Gosh, it’s just so awesome to know we’re in Phoenix.”

Eckes seemed Phoenix-bound himself before Heim made the decisive pass. Eckes led 150 laps and swept the first two stages. The runner-up finish left him one point behind Heim in the playoff standings but without a ticket to the Championship 4.

“I just think it’s ironic that the 15 (Tanner Gray) is three laps down and waited,” said Eckes, who felt Gray held him up and allowed Heim to close in. “Whatever. Good truck. I got really tight there at the end. …

“That one stinks, for sure.”

If it’s any consolation to Eckes, mistakes and ill fortune that beset other drivers created a significant spread between those above the cut line for the Championship 4 and those below it.

Defending series champion Zane Smith was penalized for pitting outside his box on Lap 116, was relegated to the rear and fell a lap down to Eckes on Lap 161. He finished 24th and heads for the next race — Sept. 30 at Talladega — in fifth place, 14 points behind Grant Enfinger (third on Friday) for the final playoff-eligible position.

Contact between Heim’s Toyota and Ty Majeski’s Ford cut Majeski’s right front tire on Lap 107, three laps before the of Stage 2. Majeski was never a factor after that and finished 19th, leaving him 22 points behind Enfinger.

Carson Hocevar ran fourth and enters the second Round of 8 race at Talladega 18 points above the cut line.

Tyler Gray, Rajah Caruth, Ben Rhodes, Chase Purdy, rookie Nick Sanchez and Matt DiBenedetto completed the top 10.

Sanchez started at the back of the field because of a broken suspension part that prevented him from making a qualifying run. Though he salvaged the ninth-place result, he trails Enfinger by 22 points with two races left in the Round of 8.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race — UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol, Tennessee
Thursday, September 14, 2023

1. (11) Corey Heim (P), Toyota, 200.
2. (1) Christian Eckes (P), Chevrolet, 200.
3. (13) Grant Enfinger (P), Chevrolet, 200.
4. (2) Carson Hocevar (P), Chevrolet, 200.
5. (8) Taylor Gray #, Toyota, 200.
6. (5) Rajah Caruth #, Chevrolet, 200.
7. (18) Ben Rhodes (P), Ford, 200.
8. (3) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 200.
9. (35) Nick Sanchez # (P), Chevrolet, 200.
10. (12) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 200.
11. (30) Jake Garcia #, Chevrolet, 200.
12. (27) Carson Kvapil(i), Chevrolet, 200.
13. (36) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 200.
14. (24) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 200.
15. (20) Conner Jones, Ford, 200.
16. (21) Matt Crafton, Ford, 200.
17. (19) Hailie Deegan, Ford, 200.
18. (28) Parker Kligerman(i), Chevrolet, 200.
19. (4) Ty Majeski (P), Ford, 200.
20. (15) Jake Drew, Toyota, 200.
21. (16) Daniel Dye #, Chevrolet, 199.
22. (23) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 199.
23. (25) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 199.
24. (10) Zane Smith (P), Ford, 199.
25. (17) Kaden Honeycutt, Chevrolet, 199.
26. (26) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 199.
27. (29) Bret Holmes #, Chevrolet, 199.
28. (22) Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, 199.
29. (6) Tanner Gray, Toyota, 198.
30. (9) William Sawalich, Toyota, 197.
31. (31) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 196.
32. (34) Stephen Mallozzi, Ford, 192.
33. (33) Memphis Villarreal, Ford, 191.
34. (32) Greg Van Alst, Chevrolet, Brakes, 140.
35. (14) Dean Thompson, Toyota, Accident, 14.
36. (7) Jack Wood, Chevrolet, Accident, 13.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 84.047 mph.

Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 16 Mins, 6 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.218 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 4 for 33 laps.

Lead Changes: 4 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C. Eckes (P) 1-60;C. Purdy 61;Z. Smith (P) 62-104;C. Eckes (P) 105-194;C. Heim (P) 195-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Christian Eckes (P) 2 times for 150 laps; Zane Smith (P) 1 time for 43 laps; Corey Heim (P) 1 time for 6 laps; Chase Purdy 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,42,98,4,38,24,17,11,15,99

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,38,2,11,23,17,42,7,24,99

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

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