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MNR Review: Corey Heim Crowned Champion, But Not Without Controversy

This MNR Review is presented by Monday Night Racing.

On Monday, Feb. 13, the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series concluded its sixth season of competition with the running of the GridRival MNR Season 6 Championship race in the NASCAR Xfinity cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Corey Heim overcame a lap one pass-through penalty to win the race and the championship in an overtime finish.  For the second week in a row, David Schildhouse finished in the runner-up spot. Adam Cabot settled for third, Bailey Turner brought it home fourth, and Collin Fern completed the top five finishers.

Check out the race recap from Frontstretch’s Joy Tomlinson here. You can also view the full race broadcast, along with the Frontstretch post-race show, featuring Brandon Hauff and Michael Massie, on the Frontstretch YouTube Channel. Here are the top five storylines from the season six finale:

See also
Corey Heim Claims Monday Night Racing Season 6 Championship at Homestead

1) Heim’s Journey From Worst to First

The odyssey that was Heim’s race at Homestead started last week at Chicagoland when Heim, who was 20 laps down at the time, blocked second-place Schildhouse. His teammate Leighton Sibille benefitted from the move to win the race and locked up a spot in the Championship 4. Sibille would wind up sixth overall and third among the championship drivers at Homestead.

MNR officials took notice of this and penalized Heim for manipulating the outcome of the race with his aggressive driving. As a result, Heim had to drive down pit road on the opening lap of the 200-lap championship race.

From the drop of the green, it was evident that Heim had winning speed, starting from the pole and coming out of pit road still on the lead lap. Slowly but surely, Heim ate into the deficit between himself and the other championship contenders, inching his way into the top 10 in the second half of the race. With a caution, Heim could put himself back in the championship conversation.

The only problem is that for the longest time, that caution never came. Everything changed on lap 162 when Will Rodgers in the No. 7 got into it with the No. 32 of Dakotah Curtis in turn four, and the yellow flag made its first of four appearances on the evening.

With the gap now all but erased, Heim would make aggressive moves on the ensuing restarts to navigate his way to the front and hold off Cabot through an overtime restart to win his third race of season six and add his name to the list of MNR champions. 

“It was a really, really fun race tonight,” an excited Heim told Blake McCandless post-race. “I feel like we were the best car. Typically, I’m not very good at Homestead, but I did a lot of studying and it paid off.”

2) Cabot, Class of the Field, Comes Up Short

While Heim worked his way through the field, Cabot emerged as the dominant force up front, not only leading the most laps, but opening up margins of several seconds on the field.

After a duel in the opening laps between Sibille and Anthony Alfredo, Cabot took the top spot for the first time on lap 37, asserting himself as the championship driver to beat. Cabot would keep his pit strategy, coming down for service every fifty laps of the 200-lap race, essentially breaking it up into four 50-lap segments. Every time green flag pit stops cycled through, Cabot would be back on point.

It looked as though Cabot might cruise to a race win and a second career MNR title if the race stayed green. The only problem: the race did not stay green. The wreck between Rodgers and Curtis bunched the field back up, and Cabot would wind up on the wrong end of restarts that cost him.

“I’m holding my head high,” Cabot said in his post-race interview with Eric Estepp. “I did everything that I needed to do.”

3) Controversy Rears Its Head Again

Though the championship race was clean on the whole, the ending was stained with suspicion.  

Rodgers, one of the drivers involved in the wreck that led to the first caution with 39 laps left, is a teammate of Heim, who was in need of a caution to get caught up with Cabot and the rest of the leaders. Between this and the race manipulation involving Heim last week, questions have been raised about whether or not the wreck was intentional to get Heim back in the title hunt.

Of all the competitors and fans pointing out the potential problem, no one was more vocal than Cabot, who was in the catbird seat to win before the Rodgers incident.

“Everyone who watched that race knows who deserves to be the champion,” Cabot pointed out. “The face of the matter is Heim and his team decided to manipulate the race again after they manipulated it last week, and lo and behold, it happened.”

MNR co-founders Ford Martin and Matt Stallknecht acknowledged the concerns in their own post-race interview with Kenneth Bueno of Podium eSports.

“We are aware of it,” Martin said. “We will thoroughly look into it and investigate it, and there will be updates later on.”

However, in that same interview, Martin made it clear that regardless of the outcome of the investigation, there will be no change in the race or championship results.

“No, we do not foresee any change as far as the champion,” Martin emphasized.

A statement was released on the MNR Twitter account later that evening making it clear that league officials are looking into the issue and that a follow-up statement will be sent out after the investigation is complete.

4) Paint Scheme of the Race

Chase Cabre had a phenomenal rookie season in MNR, winning two races and making a run all the way to the championship 4. Cabre showed up to his championship bid at Miami in style, with a beach-style livery that perfectly fit the time and location of the season finale. The people at JDR Graphics went all out with this look.

Cabre MNR Homestead
(Photo: Ryan Kish)

As for Cabre himself, he was a consistent presence towards the front of the field, spending much of the evening in the top five. Unfortunately, his rookie season would end on a sour note when he got tangled up with Alfredo and crashed in turn two with a mere four laps to go. When all was said and done, Cabre recovered to 10th, but he was dead last among the Championship 4 drivers.

5) Next Up: MNR Season 7 Plans

Fans will have to wait longer than usual for their next taste of weekly MNR races as season seven will not begin until Monday, Oct. 2 with a race at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Next Gen cars.

The full MNR season seven schedule was released just hours prior to the championship race. The season seven slate features the return of four car/track combinations from season six: Next Gen cars at Pocono, Mazda MX-5s at the Daytona road course, the 1987 Cup cars at Auto Club, and the Xfinity cars at Homestead for the championship finale.

There are also a few new wrinkles to the season seven schedule. First and foremost, season seven will be 18 races long with a five-race playoff, an expansion from the 13 races, and the five-race playoff that comprised season six. Another key difference is the inclusion of a mystery race on Dec. 11 that will be chosen by season six champion Heim.

In the near eight-month interim between seasons, MNR will be hosting standalone community events during the summer months, similar to races like the Podium 500 put on by Podium eSports.

“Instead of committing resources to a summer season, season seven will be a winter season, and we will have a slate of community events like the Podium 500,” Stallknecht said postrace. “We are really excited about that. We have been very successful up to this point, but we have a lot to learn and a long way to go.”

About the author

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He has a new day job as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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