Whether it’s Super, Pro or Late Model Stock Cars— this kid’s trying it.
Corey Heim has spent this season experimenting with a variety of full-bodied stock cars and this Sunday, the 16-year-old will be taking on the longest Super Late Model race in the country: the 47th Annual Winchester 400.
If it seems slightly ambitious, that’s because it is. This is the first year Heim has competed in a Super Late Model and Winchester Speedway’s prestigious 400-lapper is nearly triple the average length of races he has competed in to date.
But in a sport known now more than ever for shrinking the shelf life of its competitors, making an early name for yourself is the name of the game. And that’s exactly the sort of thing winning the Winchester 400 will do.
“This year, we’re trying to get in as many bigger-time races as we can,” Heim told Speed51.com. “I’m ready to start getting into the longer-style races and the Winchester 400 is definitely at the top of my bucket list. There’s a lot of talented drivers running and if I can prove to people I can run well against them, I think it will be good for my career.”
It might go without saying that lack of overall experience and unfamiliarity with the track will be Heim’s biggest enemies coming in to the weekend, though a similar scenario left him the talk of the town just a couple of weeks ago.
In one drama-filled night at Martinsville, the name “Corey Heim” was thrust into the spotlight after the young gun finished runner-up in his first race at the Paperclip. It was only Heim’s third time in a Late Model Stock Car, which was evident right up until the main feature.
Regardless of how practice or qualifying goes in Indiana, Heim is hoping he’ll be able to mimic his in-race performance at Martinsville in the Super Late Model.
“With the ValleyStar 300, there wasn’t a lot of pressure,” Heim said. “We were just trying to get seat time, so the result we got of that race was unexpected, since it was just my third time in the car. I knew I had a winning type of car, I just didn’t think I had the experience to run up front, but we ended up doing so.
“That’s what I hope ends up happening this weekend. I just have to keep my head up the entire weekend even if I’m not very fast right off the bat. Hopefully, we’ll be there at the end.”
Thankfully for Heim, a veteran who considers Winchester Speedway his home track has already offered some tips that may come in handy for the former Legends driver, who's accustomed to short shootout-style races.
“Jeff Fultz ran Winchester a couple of weeks ago with the Fury guys and he won that 100-lapper,” Heim said. “He’s talked to me about the track a lot, and given me advice on how to conserve tires and stressed that it’s going to be a really long race and you just have to chill out for the first 300 laps or so and then go hard at the end.”
Only time will tell if Heim will be able to “chill out” long enough to learn what 400 laps and, if he’s lucky, the coveted Winchester rifle feels like.
“I still haven’t won my first race in any kind of full-bodied stock car so any kind of win is good, but a Winchester 400 win would be something that I would remember forever,” Heim said. “To take home that rifle would be really cool, it’s one of the coolest trophies in all of racing. It would mean the world to me to win it this weekend.”
-Story by: Melissa Strahley, Gulf Coast Editor
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com