Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gets Full Short Track Experience at Florence
Nov 22, 2022
Technically, Corey Heim doesn’t even drive for Lee Pulliam Performance anymore, but he still wanted to be part of his former group winning the South Carolina 400 on Saturday night with Brenden Queen.
Heim called Pulliam during the Victory Lane celebration at Florence Motor Speedway and asked to speak to Queen, simply to offer his congratulations on keeping the torch lit as the race winning No. 78 became the race winning No. 03 as the season changed from summer to fall.
It was also notable because Heim and Queen had a couple of battles over the years that left a little tenderness on both sides -- especially the 2020 Hampton Heat -- but the former driver wanted his successor to know that he was rooting for him all the same.
This is also a reflection of the culture Pulliam has created at his organization as the four-time NASCAR Weekly Series National Champion has transitioned into a driver development powerhouse.
For years, Heim has teamed with Brandon Pierce at Pulliam and it’s been the most cohesive unit in recent short track racing history. When something has happened to eliminate Pierce from contention, he was very clearly all in on supporting Heim. And when something has knocked Heim out of a race, he is good to grab a headset and listen in while supporting his teammate.
Pulliam says it’s a character trait that he wanted reflected in the team, but credits entirely Heim and Pierce for making it a reality.
"We have good cars and I'm grateful for that," Pulliam said, "but the competition is so close, and all these cars are built pretty close, so success comes down to people and who you associate yourself with.
"My drivers know that I will go to bat for them in any situation, and they will for me too, and I think that's what Corey and Brandon bought into immediately. But really, that came natural to them. It's the kind of men they are.
"They know that if one of our cars go to Victory Lane, that's a win for all of us, and it will benefit the entire team."
Heim has also raced in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and in Super Late Models with JETT Motorsports and immediately cited Pulliam for creating a culture that all winning teams possess.
"Lee Pulliam gave me my first taste of what it was like to have a family culture in a team," Heim said. "I feel like I’ve experienced that more and more over the years and it’s something that I have already found here at TRICON too.
"Lee is a special guy, great mentor, and has everything you want in a leader to put you in the right place."
Even racing against them over the years, Queen said he saw how much everyone at Lee Pulliam Performance went to bat for each other, and it was a deciding factor in choosing that organization when it came to his 2023 plans.
"Oh, for sure," Queen said back in October when revealing he would join the team for the CARS Tour and Virginia Triple Crown races next season. They have always supported each other through thick and thin and even when we had our battles, I could tell it wasn't just one racer I was racing against but their entire group all pulling in the same direction.
"It's something I really thought I could benefit form and being a part of it."
It’s why Heim made the phone call. Pulliam said Heim was the first person to call him to congratulate him on signing Butterbean. He is effectively a Lee Pulliam Performance driver for life.
Pierce has already enjoyed working with Queen too.
"I have raced against Brenden quite a bit but never really talked to him because we never had any issues," Pierce said. "He’s a really good racer. He’s very familiar with Hedgecock, that’s his provider too. I think having this one race late this year to get acclimated with all of us before next season was a good idea too."
All told, Pulliam has a type of racer he wants representing the team, and he’s found two good ones and it already seems like the third fits the same archetype.
"Brandon and Corey are badass men," Pulliam wrote in a social media post on Sunday. "They are the type of people you want representing your company and Brenden has already shown me the same qualities since joining the team.
"He worked with me on Brandon’s car before going to the track this weekend and I can’t wait for 2023 with these guys."