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Corey Heim Makes Veteran-Like Recovery for Third-Place Finish at Iowa

Corey Heim Sam Hunt Racing NASCAR Xfinity Series Iowa

Photo Credit: Lesley Ann Miller, LAT Images for Toyota Racing

This weekend at Iowa Speedway, Corey Heim, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular for TRICON Garage, proved once again why he’s among the top prospects in NASCAR’s National Series right now.

Piloting the No. 26 Toyota GR Supra for Sam Hunt Racing (SHR), Heim recorded a third-place finish in Saturday’s Hy-Vee PERKS 250, matching the best result for the single-car operation in its Xfinity Series tenure, and the driver’s second top-five of 2024.

On Friday, Heim and Sam Hunt Racing crew chief Kris Bowen had a comprehensive understanding of the partially resurfaced short track in Newton, Iowa, finding themselves at the top of the speed charts in the 50-minute practice for the second-tier series.

An incredible start to the weekend would hit a snag on Saturday, though, when inclement weather forced NASCAR to discard qualifying for Xfinity Series teams and set the lineup via the Rule Book, leaving Heim to start the 250-lap race from outside the top-20.

The difficult starting position didn’t deter the nine-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winner, though, who managed to fly through the midfield rapidly, gaining a whopping 10 positions in the opening two laps of the race, putting him in contention for a top-10 spot.

Heim drove to eighth in the race’s first run before the tires on his Sam Hunt Racing machine began to fade. The descent started slow, but the blisters eventually progressed to a point where the car was undrivable, erasing almost all the early-race progress made.

From that point forward, it was all about the recovery for Heim.

“Yeah, though we had a great car all day,” Heim said. “We certainly struggled with the tires early, really didn’t think that was going to be an issue but it proved to be kind of how the whole race went. Certainly, didn’t expect that.”

With tire issues being at the forefront of Saturday’s event, the strategy game was all over the place – between drivers pitting under different cautions, and some teams needing to make pit stops under green due to vibrations or flat tires.

After driving from outside the top-20 twice, Heim managed to position himself to score a top-10 result at Iowa but was thrust into contention for the victory after frontrunners John Hunter Nemechek and Austin Hill suffered tire issues. On each subsequent restart, the No. 26 moved closer to the front, before sitting on the second row in NASCAR Overtime.

Sitting third, Heim was in the perfect position to capitalize if things went nuclear between leaders Sam Mayer and Riley Herbst. However, everybody minded their business and made it back to the checkered flag in one piece.

“Really surprised the leaders didn’t run into each other at the end,” Heim contested. “That was kind of what I was waiting on. I could’ve, in hindsight, been more aggressive to push the issue, but thought they were going to take care of that themselves. Sure enough, that didn’t happen.”

Making his 11th start in the Xfinity Series, Heim was able to successfully keep his composure as things looked to be falling apart on Saturday; both with qualifying being scrapped and the early-race tire problems that erased his progress moving through the field.

It’s that veteran-level mentality that has allowed him to be so successful in the NASCAR Truck Series, while also showing immense promise over the last two seasons in his first handful of starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Sam Hunt Racing.

With his third-place result at Iowa, Heim is the third driver to have scored multiple top-five finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Sam Hunt Racing, joining John Hunter Nemechek (three) and Kaz Grala (two). Sage Karam, Connor Mosack, and Ed Jones have also collected a top-five for the organization.

“Thought we were the best car yesterday and we were up there today. Had a couple of things fall our way there at the end to get in the top five and come home with a great P3 for this small team,” added Heim. “Super thankful for Sam Hunt Racing, Yahoo, Toyota Racing, and everyone from that side of things. Great effort and going to move forward and try to win one of these things one day.”

The 21-year-old driver will return to the driver’s seat of the No. 26 Toyota GR Supra next time out at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, another track that the organization has found success on in the past. Then, in two weeks, Tyler Reddick will get behind the wheel of the No. 26 at Nashville Superspeedway.

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