Heim Returns Home to Defend SpeedFest Crown

The Georgia native scored a breakthrough victory during SpeedFest 2020 two years ago.

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In 2020, Corey Heim scored a breakthrough win during SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park. Heim returns to defend that honor in 2022 at a track that is special to him not just for that moment, but for a chance to race in front of his home state fans.

"SpeedFest has always been a very special race for me," said Heim on Racing America's 'The Bullring' Wednesday. "It's at my home track, I grew up in Marietta, Georgia. It's about two hours away from where I grew up. I always have some family and friends coming along.

"It's been a couple of years since we ran that, but we also had the Georgia Spring Nationals last year, and we've been successful there as well."

While the 3/8-mile oval in Cordele, Georgia has been the long-time home of SpeedFest dating back to 2012, Heim has plenty of familiarity with Watermelon Capital Speedway. His time at the venue dates back to cutting his short track teeth in Legends cars.

"I grew up racing at that track, so I have a lot of laps around that track, whether it's in a Legends car, a Late Model, the Pro Late Model, Super Late Model. I've just got a lot of experience there, and I've been able to capitalize on the things you need to at that track.

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"It's unique, in that it's so limited in grip. You can move around and use both lanes. It's very racy, and I'm looking forward to going back."

That background set the stage for SpeedFest 2020, Heim's first race after joining Jett Motorsports. The event came down to a three-lap shootout between himself and fellow Georgia native Kyle Plott, with Heim securing the victory with a last-lap pass.

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It may have been two years ago, but Heim still has vivid memories of the race and the last-lap duel.

"It's funny, when you go back to a race that's been 60 races ago, I'd normally have a hard time reciting that. That was such a memorable moment, I can play it all back in my head. We had a green-white-checkered. We weren't great in the middle portion of the race, but my Jett Motorsports team did a great job making adjustments and had a good pit strategy.

"We put two tires on with about 20 laps to go and took the lead. We had the green-white-checkered with Kyle [Plott], and I think Kyle had the better car at the end. He was coming right before we got that caution, which saved me. It let me at least race for it without him blowing by me and blowing my doors off."

A particularly memorable part of the event was Bruce Nuttleman's on-board footage of the decisive restart paired with Heim's team communications. Lloyd Garner, Heim's spotter, coaching the young driver through the closing laps - "Crossover! Crossover! Crossover! Crossover!" - has stuck with him since then.

"2020 was a year where I learned a lot about racing, and Lloyd Garner was a huge part of that. So that video is a cool one for me."

Since then, Heim has gone on to greater heights, including six ARCA Menards Series wins in 2021. Heim's commitments for 2022 include 15 races for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and a half-dozen ARCA starts with Venturini Motorsports.

While that will keep him busy for most of the year, Heim hopes to make a handful of Super Late Model appearances when his schedule allows following SpeedFest this weekend.

"Super Late Models are a lot of fun. The offseason is a lot easier to do. In June and July, the NASCAR stuff is really dense. The Snowball Derby is at the end of the year, SpeedFest is at the beginning of the year, so I've been able to run those the last three or four years."