Corey Heim may only be 17 years old but he has already built an impressive résumé as a race car driver. The Marietta, GA rising star scored a big Super Late Model win in the SpeedFest 200 in his home state at Watermelon Capital Speedway back in January. As for the remainder of 2020 season the young driver looks to take on a varied schedule that will include some starts on the ARCA Menards Series as well as in his Super Late Model.
The victory at Watermelon Capital was particularly thrilling as Heim edged Kyle Plott by inches at the finish line in the ARCA/CRA Super Late Model-sanctioned event after Bubba Pollard and Stephen Nasse tangled while racing for the lead late in the feature.
“It was definitely nerve-racking,” Heim said of his SpeedFest win in an interview with InsideCircleTrack.com. “2019 was not the year we were looking for because we had a lot of tough luck at a lot of different race tracks. Coming back in 2020 I was really motivated to change my luck around. We’re really determined to have success this year and right out of the gate at Watermelon Capital we had a lot of speed. We qualified second then raced really well and wound up winning the race.
“Those last couple of laps were definitely nerve-racking but he raced me with a lot of respect and we came home 1-2 with clean race cars,” Heim added. “It was a lot of fun to start the season like that.”
But perhaps the part of his upcoming campaign that will keep Heim busiest will be his effort as one of the CARS Late Model Stock Cars “Touring 12”. The driver who won a CARS Super Late Model Tour event at South Boston(VA) Speedway in 2018 will drive a Late Model Stock Car field by Lee Pulliam Performance in 2020.
Heim competed in 13 ARCA Menards Series races in last year and compiled a very impressive record. Piloting a car prepared by Chad Bryant Racing the young driver earned eight top-5 and twelve top-10 finishes. However, age restrictions prevented him from racing on the bigger tracks employed by that series.
So what drove the decision of a competitor who has raced successfully in the Super Late Model class as well as in ARCA to take on a full series run with the CARS Late Model Stock Cars Tour?
“I think part of my decision was influenced by how well we run with Lee Pulliam Performance,” Heim pointed out. “I have only run about 10-12 races with them in my career but every single time we unload that race car it was super fast. And part of my decision comes from how well I work with those guys and how well they work with me. Another thing is that I feel like the CARS Tour is a very good thing for me to get involved in for my age and not being able to run full time in the ARCA Series or a NASCAR series. I can get experience running for a championship and can develop that championship mindset for when I do move up.”
Heim says that even though the cars may look the same on the outside Super Late Models and Late Model Stock Cars drive very differently. And he believes that learning the nuances of different types of cars will only serve to continue his improvement as a racer.
“The simple factors of it are that the Super Late Model has more power and the suspensions are a little bit different,” he explained. “The way they drive and the lines you have to take into the corners is definitely very different. I’ve run weekends in which I ran both cars in the same weekend. Hopping in and out of those things is not easy to do. Seat time in those cars is good to keep me open minded in whatever I’m going onto next.”
And more than just going from a Super Late Model to a Late Model Stock Car, this talented chauffeur also attributes his time in the seats of ARCA machines as well as his early days behind the wheel of Legends cars for adding to his skill set.
“I think jumping into different cars is good for me because they all require different types of driving styles,” the driver of the No. 78 SLM car insisted. “I like to always stay fresh and have other ideas on my mind on how to fix some problems I might be having on the race car. Also, going to different teams with different people is helpful because everyone has different terminologies for different things. Having new words presented to me every time I go to the race track is important, especially at my age.”
Heim will have the opportunity to put his skills to the test this month in two CARS Tour events. That series will take to the track at North Carolina’s Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday, March 7th.
Heim raced there this past weekend in order to prepare for his first points-paying event of 2020.
“I raced there this past weekend for the rescheduled race from Thanksgiving,” Heim stated. “That’s a cool race track, for sure. Me and my team tried out a different package from what we normally run to see if we could be better with that package and I felt like it was pretty good. We’re going to go back there with my teammate Brandon Pierce and see what we’ve got for them this weekend. I think we’re going to have a really good car and being on that race track for the first time this past weekend gave me a lot of confidence that’s going to help with the CARS Tour.”
Following the outing at Southern National, Heim and the CARS Tour will head to historic Hickory(NC) Motor Speedway on March 21st.
“Hickory always seems to put on a really good race,” Heim declared. “That track is worn down and hasn’t been paved in years. Every time I go there to either race or to watch it’s been really close racing, beating the doors in and really close bumper-to-bumper racing. That’s the style of racing I like but it can be frustrating at times. I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ve got. I’ve never been there with Lee Pulliam but I’ve been there with the super several times. It should be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
With so much on his plate with the LMSC effort as well as some Super Late Model and ARCA efforts mixed in, Heim has a simple set of goals for his 2020 season.
“It’s cut and dried. I just want to win races this year. This year is going to be the last year that I can have a heavy Late Model schedule if I’m going to make it in this sport. Even in ARCA, I just need to have a lot of success and run in the top-3 and win races. Me and everyone I drive for, I think our mindset is the same and that’s to go out and win races. I’ve been putting a lot of work in on the simulator and on the physical side of things just to prepare myself and better myself for every weekend.”
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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