Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Martinsville Rain Hands Corey Heim 1st Win of Season

Corey Heim dominated a rainy NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway and eventually was declared the winner after a second red flag for rain came on lap 124.

The win is Heim’s first of the season and the first of the season for the newly rebranded TRICON Garage. The Marietta, Ga. native now has three career Truck Series victories.

Heim swept both stages and continually held off the leaders on several late-race restarts to take his first win with his new team.

See also
Corey Heim Wins 1st Race with TRICON at Martinsville

Kyle Busch finished second followed by Zane Smith in third. Ty Majeski came home fourth and Tanner Gray finished fifth. TRICON had a very impressive day as four of its five trucks finished in the top 10.

Top Storylines of the Race

-Rain was an issue for the entire day, as the start of the race was delayed due to the rain (and a few lightning strikes), then the race itself was red-flagged on lap 68 for more rain.

-In the same vein, NASCAR debuted the oval rain tire, and drivers were able to take advantage of them during stage one mostly but had them on standby as rain continually threatened the race.

William Sawalich, who led every lap en route to winning the ARCA Menards Series East season opener, made an impressive Truck Series debut. He was arguably passed by the most trucks while on rain tires, made an absolutely incredible save on lap 108 after getting door slammed by Carson Hocevar into turn 1, and brought his No. 1 home an impressive ninth.

-Another ARCA Menards Series driver, Conner Jones, made his Truck Series debut for ThorSport Racing, driving his first of nine races in the No. 66 – the team that just won at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track with Joey Logano just one week prior. Jones ended the night 18th.

-The race did not experience any cautions for incident until lap 81 when Lawless Alan closed the door on Daniel Dye and looped his No. 45 in turn 3. The contact with Dye came just laps after making contact with Hailie Deegan. Dye himself, who also was penalized for speeding, spun out on lap 111. Not a good night for any of the three drivers.

-Hocevar was penalized two laps by NASCAR after seemingly making an attempt to wreck Taylor Gray on lap 116. The two made contact and Hocevar’s left-rear tire was cut. Reminiscent of his incident with Sawalich earlier in the race, Hocevar turned left into Gray’s door, but the cut tire caused him to spin himself out. NASCAR made the decision to hold the No. 42 in his pit stall for two laps. With the rain coming just laps later, it was all for naught. Hocevar ended up 34th.

See also
Drivers React to NASCAR's First Oval Race in the Rain

Championship Rundown

A new driver has entered the playoff race, leaving six spots remaining. With still over half of the regular season to go, it’s still anybody’s guess at who makes it. However, it’s worth noting that Hocevar is currently outside the top 10 despite having a win, so it’s actually ninth-place in points who is the last driver in. Currently, that driver is Matt DiBenedetto, who has a six-point lead over Chase Purdy. Majeski still leads the overall standings and would be the automatic playoff berth if the playoffs started today.

Rookie Report

Sawalich, who is only scheduled to drive six races in TRICON’s fifth truck, is already making the most of them, as he’s now in the early conversation for save of the year in the series (and maybe in NASCAR overall), and brought his truck home in ninth place. Not bad for a debut, which is why he is the Rookie of the Race.

Shoutout to his TRICON teammate, Taylor Gray, who finished just one spot ahead of him in eighth. After a few weeks of subpar luck, this was a finish Gray needed.

No. 1 – William Sawalich (ninth)
No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (11th)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (eighth)
No. 20 – Brad Perez (35th)
No. 22 – Stephen Mallozzi (36th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (25th)
No. 30 – Jonathan Shafer (29th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (22nd)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (13th)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (31st)
No. 46 – Memphis Villarreal (24th)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (18th)

See also
16-Year-Old William Sawalich Earns Top 10 in Truck Series Debut

Paint Scheme of the Race

Long John Silver’s, a long-time partner of Front Row Motorsports, was the sponsor of the race. So the seafood company decided to take it one step further and sponsor FRM’s truck, with Smith behind the wheel.

Hey, if you’re sponsoring the entire race, surely you can sponsor a truck running IN the race, right?

One Thought About This Race

Hocevar needs to race a lot smarter.

The Niece Motorsports driver was well-liked by fans last season, as they saw he had enough talent to compete for wins weekly, and is primed to move up eventually. However, late last season, as well as the beginning of this one, he’s become a lot more polarizing, as several run-ins with drivers have led Hocevar to become labeled as a dirty driver.

Not to mention a couple of intentional spins that have only soured his driving reputation more. Tonight’s two run-ins with TRICON drivers left fans wishing for him to be parked (not that it mattered because the race was declared official a few laps later).

As the weeks go by, Hocevar seems to be losing more and more fans because his driving style doesn’t seem to change. He does have a part-time teammate who knows a thing or two about aggressive driving and losing popularity – Ross Chastain. Maybe Chastain needs to give Hocevar pointers on how to deal with it. With recent weeks being focused on intentional wrecking and lack of class and respect in racing, Hocevar needs to race a lot smarter if he doesn’t want to fall into any of those categories

Hocevar is a talented driver and has a great personality, but it’s clear he needs to clean some things up if he wants to be racing on Sundays.

Where to Next?

Off to the Heartland. The Truck Series will have the next two weeks off from racing, but when it does return on Saturday, May 6, it’ll be at Kansas Speedway. Coverage for the Heart of America 200 will begin at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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TiminPayson

Losing a little respect for Carson feeling pressure in his 3rd season.

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