In his fourth start with Lee Pulliam Performance, Marietta, Georgia native Corey Heim will be looking to shake off a string of bad luck in Late Models with a strong performance in the Myrtle Beach 400 this weekend.
Heim has technically been the first car to finish in each of his three Late Model starts, but circumstances outside of his control prevented him from taking his #78 car to victory lane. Now armed with experience and added determination following those misfortunes, Heim is looking forward to tackling a track that has been very good to his boss and bringing home a victory that will stand in a record book.
“Redemption is probably the sweetest thing we can taste this weekend,” Heim said. “If we can go home with a win, that’s about as good as redemption is going to get right there after the controversies that happened at South Boston and Martinsville. Pretty much everyone who wasn’t officiating the race felt like I should have won all those races.”
The 2018 season has been an eventful one for Heim after he elected to make the jump from Pro Late Models to Super Late Models on a regular basis, which included a full-season campaign in the CARS Response Energy Super Late Model Tour. In nine starts, Heim picked up one victory at South Boston Speedway and recorded six Top 10 finishes, which helped him earn a second-place finish in points behind series champion Jared Fryar.
Heim’s consistency in Super Late Models caught the attention of four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Lee Pulliam, but it was only when Heim’s crew chief Matt Drake contacted him about running big Late Model races that the two sides began working on putting a deal together. After some deliberation, Pulliam agreed to put Heim behind the wheel of one of his Late Models at South Boston on Aug. 11, which would help him get prepared for the prestigious ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway.
The success Heim experience in Super Late Models transferred over into his first Late Model starts at South Boston, as he had the fastest car the entire weekend and took the checkered flag in both 75-lap features that included drivers such as Peyton Sellers and Philip Morris. The celebration for Heim was short-lived, as a post-race inspection revealed that his car had too much camber in the rear end, which resulted in a disqualification, handing both wins over to Ryan Repko.
Heim and Pulliam regrouped and turned their attention to the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, where Heim once again showed a quick pace in the feature despite being involved in an accident during his heat. Heim survived the late-race chaos and appeared to edge CE Falk III for the win, but NASCAR determined that Falk was in front of Heim when the last caution flag of the night was displayed, which gave Falk the victory and sent a dejected Heim home in second place.
Despite the misfortunes they have encountered, Pulliam has been proud of the amount of maturity Heim has showed through his first three races. Pulliam added that Heim has been a very quick learner ever since he got behind the wheel of a Late Model and is confident that Heim will use the controversies at South Boston and Martinsville as extra motivation to help bring home his first official Late Model victory in the Myrtle Beach 400.
“Everybody faces challenges, and I feel like it would be easy for him to get down on himself, this series and everything else with the way those calls went against him,” Pulliam said. “Corey’s a good kid, and he’s a young kid. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he really took everything in stride, which has really helped motivate him in trying to get a trophy on Saturday.”
Heim will be learning from one of the best drivers to ever make a lap around the half-mile oval in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as Pulliam has won numerous times at the facility and is the most recent Late Model track champion. Pulliam’s most recent victory at Myrtle Beach came during the CARS Response Energy Tour BakerDist.com 100 in March, where he intentionally dropped to the rear in the opening stages only to charge back up to the front and pass Ronald Hill for the win 10 laps remaining.
Heim has been listening to Pulliam’s advice carefully while also making laps around Myrtle Beach on iRacing as he prepares to make his first Late Model start at the track on Saturday night. While Heim is anticipating several differences between getting around Myrtle Beach in a Late Model as opposed to a Super Late Model, he knows that it will be imperative for him to save tires early on for him to cap off his solid season with a win.
“A win would mean everything to me,” Heim said. “I’ve been doing a lot of studying this week, and I feel really good about it. I really liked this racetrack when I first came here with the CARS Tour, and we had one of the fastest cars during that weekend, and it was only my second start in a Super Late Model. I know the car I have is going to be one of the best in the field, so the confidence I have going in here is as high as it’s been at any racetrack.”
Heim will have to fend off a strong group of drivers if he wants to add his name to the list of Myrtle Beach 400 champions, including Josh Berry, who enters tomorrow night’s race as the defending winner of the event. Other notable drivers who have filed entries for the race include former ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Timothy Peters as well as three-time Virginia Late Model Triple Crown champion Peyton Sellers.