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Corey Heim Wins XPEL 225 Truck Series Race at Circuit of the Americas

Corey Heim does a burnout in turn one after winning the XPEL 225 at Circuit of the Americas. Photo Credit: Matthew T. Thacker, LAT Images | Courtesy of Toyota Racing

After an action-packed race at Circuit of the Americas which featured many spins, penalties, and flat tires, Corey Heim emerged victorious in Saturday’s XPEL 225 Truck Series race. Heim is the first Toyota driver to ever win a Truck Series race at COTA, and with the win he becomes the fourth driver to lock into the 2024 Craftsman Truck Series playoffs, joining Nick Sanchez, Rajah Caruth, and Christian Eckes.

Heim is also the fifth different driver to win in the first five races of the season.

“To put together a solid race like this is so special”, Heim said in his post-race interview. “It really just shows how good our trucks are back at the shop”.

Heim, the Stage 2 winner, qualified his No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota on the front row, starting to the outside of 17-year-old Connor Zilisch, who was making his Craftsman Truck Series debut. Heim also led 31 of the 46 laps in the race, the most of any driver.

While he dominated the race on Saturday, Heim admits that he was nervous as the race had numerous restarts in the closing laps, which put the level of fuel in his gas tank in question.

“Yeah, I was super nervous,” Heim stated afrter the race. “On the last lap of the last restart, I stuttered a little bit on the right-handers, because the fuel pick up is on the other side. The whole fuel load would go to the other side. I thought I was going to be out by the time I came around, but luckily I had a couple of left-handers at the end of course – and I had fuel.”

For the fourth consecutive race, Taylor Gray, Heim’s TRICON Garage teammate, finished one position behind Heim. Gray secured his best-career series finish in second. Ty Majeski rounded out the podium in his No. 98 Ford F-150, while Zilisch and Ross Chastain rounded out the top five finishers.

Jack Hawksworth, making his Truck Series debut, like Zilisch, finished in sixth. Defending series champion Ben Rhodes, Bristol winner Christian Eckes, Dean Thompson, and Tanner Gray comprised the rest of the top ten.

The finishes by Thompson and Tanner Gray resulted in TRICON Garage having all five of its entries finish in the top ten, the first time that has happened in a Truck Series event since ThorSport Racing accomplished the feat at the spring Martinsville race in 2019.

RELATED: XPEL 225 at Circuit of the Americas Results

Going into Turn 1 of the first lap of the race, Zilisch locked up his tires and sailed straight through the corner. He was able to stop his truck before going into the gravel trap, but not before losing over 20 positions and having to pit the following lap due to a flat tire.

Video: Polesitter Connor Zilisch Locks up Brakes in Turn 1 at COTA

Multiple instances of contact occurred throughout stage one, though not all of them brought out a caution.  On Lap 3, Spencer Boyd’s No. 76 Chevrolet made contact with Dale Quarterley’s No. 12 Toyota, pushing in Quarterley’s door and causing his left front tire to go flat. The carcass would come off the truck moments later, bringing out the first caution of the event.

Lap 8 saw a multi-truck incident involving Daniel Dye, Stewart Friesen, Marco Andretti, and Vicente Salas. Going into the last corner, Dye made contact with Friesen, sending the No. 52 around. Andretti spun his No. 04 Chevrolet out in an attempt to miss Friesen, and did so right into the path of Salas, making his first NASCAR national series start. Salas and Andretti suffered minor damage from the contact, and Dye would have to pit due to a flat right front tire from hitting Friesen’s truck. This incident did not trigger a caution, and all trucks involved continued on in the event.

While the incident involving Dye and Friesen was occurring, Layne Riggs lost power in his No. 38 Ford while running inside the top five. Riggs had to reverse up pit road to allow his crew to service the truck, and had secondary issues after returning to the track. The No. 38 would end up losing three laps, taking Riggs out of contention and ending the undefeated streak for Front Row Motorsports at the venue.

Nick Sanchez, the winner of the season-opening race at Daytona, was the winner of stage one in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Sanchez would finish 18th after being spun on the final restart of the race.

The next caution occurred on Lap 22, when Lawless Alan got into Daniel Dye, sending both trucks around in turn six. Dye was able to get his No. 43 Chevrolet going again, while Alan’s No. 33 Ford stalled where it spun, forcing NASCAR to display the yellow flag.

Stage three ran caution-free until five laps to go, when Alan’s No. 33 stalled for a second time. Unlike his first stall, he was not able to get his truck going, and had to climb out of his truck and retire from the race.

That would not be the last caution of the event, as one of the most bizarre incidents of the season occurred with two laps remaining. Marco Andretti’s No. 04 truck lost the entire rear-end housing in Turn 11, sending Andretti briefly up in the air and around. The axle, tires, and multiple hoses and wires all came out simultaneously, ending Andretti’s second career Truck Series start prematurely. The incident put the race back under caution and briefly under a red flag while the housing and accompanying debris was removed from the racing surface.

 

VIDEO: Marco Andretti’s Truck Loses….the Entire Rear End Housing???

Heim led the field to the green white checkered restart, and despite fuel concerns and a charging Connor Zilisch on fresh tires, he was able to hold off his teammate and the rest of the field to score his first victory of the 2024 season. Heim’s victory broke a streak of six consecutive wins by Chevrolet in the series dating back to Homestead last season, and TRICON Garage became the first team other than Front Row Motorsports to win a Truck Series race at COTA.

The next Craftsman Truck Series race is scheduled for Friday, April 5 at Martinsville Speedway, and will be broadcast by FS1.

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