Mother Nature apparently isn’t our friend this year – unless you’re Corey Heim, I guess, who ended up capturing the victory in Friday’s Long John Silver’s 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
The event, which was scheduled for 200 laps, was brought to a conclusion 76 laps short of the finish, due to the persistence and strength of the inclement weather surrounding the half-mile paperclip.
The timing of the precipitation aligned with the race’s sixth caution, which came as a result of an incident between Carson Hocevar and Taylor Gray, which ultimately resulted in NASCAR dishing out a two-lap penalty to the Niece Motorsports driver.
At that time, though, it was Corey Heim who was leading the Long John Silver’s 200, something he had done for the majority of the event, after taking the lead from Kyle Busch on the race’s first laps on slick tires.
Yes, you read that correctly, slick tires. After a lengthy weather delay, NASCAR elected to have drivers run the opening segment of the race on wet weather tires, something that only became a possibility this year, as a result of extensive testing.
That opening stint lasted 28 laps – incredibly enough without a single on-track incident – before the sanctioning body decided the wear was becoming too much on those tires, throwing the competition caution to allow teams to put on slicks.
In those opening laps on slicks, the TRICON Garage driver took advantage, blasting to the lead around the outside of his former boss, Kyle Busch, to snag the lead, and didn’t look back for a moment.
Busch, making his third of five starts this year in the No. 51 Chevrolet Camaro, came home in the runner-up position, while Zane Smith finished third after winning the pole and challenging for the lead throughout the race.
Ty Majeski continued an incredible streak of top-five results with a fourth-place finish, while Tanner Gray scored another top-five finish in the No. 15 for TRICON Garage.
Ben Rhodes came home sixth, with Matt DiBenedetto and Taylor Gray each being credited with results inside the top eight at the half-mile facility. On debut, William Sawalich recorded a ninth-place finish, even after a massive save that blew the minds of many.
Chase Purdy rounded out the race’s top-10 finishers at the end of 124 laps, while Nick Sanchez, Ross Chastain, Jake Garcia, and Grant Enfinger shuffled to outside the top-10, but still scored top-15s.
Leaving Martinsville, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series gets two weeks off before traveling to Kansas Speedway for its next event. Ty Majeski heads to Kansas as the points leader, 26 markers ahead of Zane Smith.