Hickory Motor Speedway will be back in action Saturday, with a pair of 51-lap Late Model Stock features headlining the racing card. One racer who will be at “The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars” on Saturday is Corey Heim, driving for Lee Pulliam Performance.
While Heim has not been in a race in several months, time spent testing with the Lee Pulliam Performance team gives the Georgia driver plenty of optimism entering Saturday’s event.
“I feel pretty good,” Heim told Speed51. “We’ve been testing a lot with Lee, so I feel like I won’t be too rusty getting back in the seat. I also tested at Hickory recently, about a month ago, so I feel good going into the week. We’ve got those Twin 51s, they’re not the longest races. We’ll prepare for short runs, but I feel really good going into the weekend.”
Heim picked up a major win in Super Late Model competition, opening the year with a victory at CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA). However, that success has not translated to Late Model Stock competition to start the 2020 season.
A mechanical issue prevented Heim from reaching the finish of the Myrtle Beach Icebreaker 125. In the CARS Late Model Stock Tour season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC), Heim finished 15th.
With plenty of confidence in the Lee Pulliam Performance team and time spent testing during the hiatus, Heim firmly believes the team can turn its fortunes around starting this weekend.
“It was a definitely disappointing start, but I don’t think it was anyone’s fault, really,” said Heim. “You have good races and bad races. We had the motor go out at Myrtle Beach and a bad race at Southern National, but we’ve been testing with those guys for a while. We’ve been showing a lot of good speed.”
While this will be Heim’s first time racing a Late Model Stock Car at Hickory, he has competed numerous times at the historic North Carolina bullring in Super Late Models. While the cars are different, lessons learned from those past races give Heim an idea what to expect on Saturday.
“Hickory is a track I’ve been to a bunch of times, so I have experience going into there. I have a lot of confidence going into the weekend. There will be some big teams there. I think it will be interesting. I’ve never raced the Late Model Stock there, but I’ve tested there and I’ve raced Supers there many times. One thing I do know is that track position is very big there and tire conservation is very big there.
“A really big deal this weekend, with the twin 51 lappers and not getting tires in between, you’ll see a lot of guys who don’t think they have a shot in the first race save tires for the second race. It will definitely be a tall task to win both of those, but that will be our goal this weekend.”
Perhaps most importantly, Heim is just excited to once again take a green flag and compete in a short track racing event.
“It’ll be awesome. I’ve been looking forward to it for months now. I’ve been stuffed up in quarantine, just really looking forward to this moment. I didn’t know when the first race back would be, but Hickory is one of the coolest tracks to do it, just because of the history of the place. I think it’ll be a really, really good car count, too. It’s going to be a good time.”
Click here to order your pay-per-view ticket for Saturday’s historic event at Hickory Motor Speedway, and remember to use the coupon code “HICKORY” to save $5 on your purchase.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo