The ARCA Menards Series has been on hiatus for almost four weeks since its season opening thriller at the Daytona International Speedway. That break in the racing action, however, will end this Friday evening when the historic tour takes to the track at the Phoenix Raceway for the General Tire 150. This will only be the second race in the history of the national series on this one-mile track but the event will serve as a combination with the ARCA Menards Series West. That series has raced here multiple times under the former K&N West Series banner.
One driver who is very much looking forward to a return to action is 18-year-old Corey Heim. Dating back to the end of the 2020 season, the Marietta, GA racer has won his last two ARCA Menards Series starts having collected the trophy from the Speediatrics 150 at the Kansas Speedway last October then the Lucas Oil 200 last month in Daytona.
With a full season driving for ARCA power house Venturini Motorsports ahead of him, Heim is almost certain to be a championship contender as well as a favorite to win multiple races. His win in Daytona will only serve to heighten Heim’s excitement for the remainder of the 2021 season and his confidence.
“It definitely gives me a lot of confidence starting the year off like this, especially when there was a huge car count,” Heim declared in his post-race media availability following Daytona. “I think we had 36 cars to start the race so if we had a DNF or something like that it would have been a really rough start to our season. Luckily, we were on the other end of it today. It will do wonders for the rest of my season.”
Heim is a product of Toyota Racing Development and believes that was not only key to his win in Daytona but also to his current status as a top ARCA competitor. Having a top team provided him the opportunity to take advantage of a late caution in Daytona.
“It’s really difficult to put into words right now but the least I can say is thank you to my Venturini Motorsports and my Toyota team,” he pointed out. “My crew chief, Shannon Rursch, put me in a perfect position with a really great strategy call. I feel like if we didn’t have that caution we would have won the race because of the pure speed of our car, and with that caution, I was still confident that we could get it done.”
The young driver felt the impact of his Daytona win and is now ready to build upon it.
“For me, it was really hard to put it in perspective what something like this would mean to me. It still really hasn’t sunk in,” Heim stated. “I’m really honored to be here. I grew up in short track roots and had a little bit of success along the way there. I got a little taste of victory. To win here at Daytona with all the hype there is around this race and just what it means to win at Daytona, I couldn’t even imagine it as a young kid.”
His Kansas win likely propelled him to the position he currently holds. Steering the Andy Hillenburg Toyota to victory lane on the 1.5-mile speedway that day last October drew attention to the driver who cut his racing teeth on short tracks.
“Man, it’s hard to say,” Heim replied when asked if that win landed him his current ride. “I know it was definitely a beneficial win for my career. I feel like that was a pretty big race for me with my limited schedule to at least capitalize on one of the seven races I ran last year. Winning a race to be able to race full-time this year was pretty crucial, I think. To be sitting here going back-to-back in the ARCA Menards Series.”
Heim plans to take 2021 day-by-day and that journey resumes on Friday night in the ‘Valley of the Sun’.
“Personally, I just take it one race at a time. Of course, the big goal is to win the championship and we want to win all the races we can. From my view, I’m going to try to win every race. I don’t see any reason why we can’t. We have a really great team behind us at Venturini Motorsports and Toyota Racing behind us.”
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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