Home sweet home

Marietta’s Corey Heim takes checkered flag in Fr8 208


Craig Bardo

Corey Heim poses in Victory Lane after earning his first career Camping World Truck Series win on a last-lap pass. Heim, driver of the No. 51 JBL Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, grew up in Marietta, Georgia.

Corey Heim took the checkered flag in the Fr8 208 with a last lap pass at his home track. The Marietta, Georgia, driver and pilot of the No. 51 JBL Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports earned his first career victory on the newly paved Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

“It’s so surreal to be at my home track where I have raced so many races,” Heim said. “I’ve been coming here since I was two to watch Cup races.”

Chandler Smith led the field to the white flag, but could not hold off a last-lap charge from race winner Heim. Smith drove his No. 18 Safelite Toyota to a fourth place finish. (Annika Pepper)

Ben Rhodes, driving the No. 99 Toyota for ThorSport Racing, finished in second place. Ty Majeski finished third in his No. 66 American Racing Wheels Toyota.

Also in his home state, Chandler Smith earned a fourth place finish driving his No. 18 Safelite Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Zane Smith took fifth in his No. 38 Ford for Fr8Auctions.com and his team Front Row Motorsports. 

“I was sitting duck once the 4 shoved the 51 down below me everybody followed him,” Chandler said. “There’s nothing I could have done.”

Today’s race saw close-knit pack racing. It worked to the advantage of some, but not for Stewart Freisen who led the majority of the first two stages. The final stage saw the most cautions due to accidents.

“Chandler did a great job of defending what he did,” Heim said. “The runs you get here are just insane, and there really isn’t much you can do about it except block it.”

Stewart Freisen in the No. 52 Halmar International Toyota led the entirety of the first stage at the head of two large packs of trucks. All thirty laps of the stage were run without incident. 

The second stage saw Friesen return to the lead until John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 4 Toyota took over on lap 51 after Matt Milles brought out the caution. Racing continued again in two tight packs of trucks, in some places running three wide, until the caution flag signaling the end of the second stage with Nemechek back in the lead.

Rhodes, driver of the No. 99 for ThorSport, used a push from Ty Majeski to finish third. (Annika Pepper)

“I had a really hard time trying to get to the front from starting 15th today,” Rhodes said. “You had to have help today.”

Ending the race, the final stage saw the most action with multiple wrecks. Nemechek fell to 17th place before climbing back to second. His return was short-lived as the top ten racers traded positions. Nemechek went on to finish 24th.

In the closing laps, several more drivers moved toward the front. Friesen steadily worked his way through the pack en route to a sixth place finish. Ty Majeski improved his finishing spot by pushing Rhodes to a second place finish.

“I’m a fan of old Atlanta. I love worn-out race tracks,” Rhodes said. “At the same time, I think it was a hell of a race. I’m sure the fans enjoyed it.”

As teams pack up and travel to Texas for next week’s race, Chandler Smith leads Tanner Gray in the point standings by 12 points.

The Truck Series heads to Austin, Texas, for road course racing at the Circuit of the Americas in the XPEL 225 on March 26.