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Corey Heim Solid in Debut; Finishes 25th Filling in For Injured Jones at Dover

Corey Heim NASCAR Cup Series debut Dover 2024 finishes 25th No. 43 STP richard petty car

Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing

It won’t go down as the most prolific NASCAR Cup Series debut in history, but Corey Heim competed admirably in relief of the injured Erik Jones in the Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway. The 21-year-old, who found out he would be making his first career NASCAR Cup Series start mid-week, salvaged a 25th-place finish in a special STP / Dollar Tree Petty 75th Anniversary throwback paint scheme.

The native of Marietta, Georgia says that the Next Gen car, and electric atmosphere of a NASCAR Cup Series race weekend was quite a bit different than what he’s used to in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

“Definitely a lot different,” Heim said in a post-race interview with FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “I’ve been saying it all weekend, I feel like it’s a big change compared to what I’m used to. But really in the beginning to middle of the race, I thought we had a ton of speed.”

Heim did in fact have decent speed for a driver making his debut. The six-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race winner started the day from the 32nd position, and according to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, Heim recorded the second-most green flag passes (72) of anyone in the field on Sunday. The only driver with more green flag passes than Heim was Christopher Bell with 82.

Additionally, of the 400 laps in Sunday’s race, Heim was the fastest driver on track for nine of them, which ranked Heim with the 10th-most fastest laps turned in the event.

While Heim had the speed to record a really solid finish in his NASCAR Cup Series debut, circumstances tore down the potential high ceiling for Heim’s day.

“We got kind of messed up on the cycle there, when the leaders pit[ted], I pit[ted] a lap later, and then the caution came out right away, which pinned us an extra lap down,” Heim explained. “We were beating the guys that finished like 15th to 20th all day, so, I feel like that is where we were supposed to end up. But that’s part of racing, and I’m super thankful for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB for putting me in this week and believing in me. Definitely should have been probably six or seven spots better, but it just didn’t work out that way.”

Still, 25th-place for Heim’s first-ever finish in the Next Gen car is pretty incredible, especially when the call for the start came after Jones’ back injury, which was sustained in a hard crash at Talladega Superspeedway. While it wasn’t the circumstances that any driver wants to make their first NASCAR Cup start under, Heim is still very emotional and proud of his effort.

“I really feel emotional,” Heim said. “I feel like I’ve worked so hard for this moment, and to be where I ended up is unfortunate. But I worked my butt off to be there, and it’s a really cool moment for me.”

While Heim was announced in the preseason reserve driver for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and 23XI Racing, LMC co-owner Jimmie Johnson said during a media availability at Dover Motor Speedway that after Kansas Speedway, the team has yet to determine who will drive the No. 43 Toyota Camry XSE in place of Jones.

“Next weekend, I’m in the [No. 84] car in Kansas. We really haven’t looked really far down the road,” Johnson explained. “We are taking it week-by-week, but Kansas for sure – it would be Corey (Heim) [in the No. 43 car] and not me.”

With how Heim acclimated to the Next Gen car in his debut at Dover, it’ll be interesting to see what direction LEGACY MOTOR CLUB goes following Kansas Speedway.

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