Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Corey Heim is Latest Driver in Mix for Promotion

On Wednesday (Sept. 6), the worst kept secret in the NASCAR Cup Series garage was confirmed when Legacy Motor Club announced that Xfinity Series driver John Hunter Nemechek will drive the No. 42 in 2024, as part of the team’s switch to Toyota.

The promotion was largely expected; Nemechek was linked to the ride ever since LMC announced its move to Toyota, even before Noah Gragson’s suspension. Now the move is official.

See also
John Hunter Nemechek Joining Legacy Motor Club in 2024

With that, Nemechek will leave behind his Xfinity ride with Joe Gibbs Racing, and a good one at that. Nemechek currently has six wins and is largely the favorite for the Xfinity title in what will be his lone season in the No. 20.

While JGR has some in-house drivers who could easily make the move to full-time to replace Nemechek, such as Ryan Truex, Trevor Bayne, and even Myatt Snider and Joe Graf Jr., JGR might look to the Craftsman Truck Series for its next driver of the No. 20.

And what better option to slot into that seat than TRICON Garage’s Corey Heim?

Heim is in the midst of his own championship-caliber season and is one of Toyota Racing Development’s top prospects. This was evident when Heim jumped ship from Kyle Busch Motorsports to a brand-new ride at TRICON Garage following 2022.

Heim ran a part-time schedule with KBM in 2022, winning two races and Rookie of the Year in the process. When KBM switched to Chevrolet, Heim did not go and instead moved to TRICON, who had just moved to Toyota to fill the void KBM left behind.

Heim has won two races this season with TRICON this season en route to the regular season championship, despite missing a race at World Wide Technology Raceway due to illness. Entering the Round of 8, Heim leads the point standings despite being winless in the playoffs.

Heim has taken the racing scene by storm ever since his first part-time season in ARCA in 2019. He notched his first win at Kansas Speedway in 2020 before going full-time in 2021, where he won six races and finished second in the championship.

Heim now has two full-time seasons (well, more like one and two-thirds) of Truck Series competition and he could be more than ready for a shot in the Xfinity Series. He has already made four Xfinity starts this season with Sam Hunt Racing, another Toyota team, with a best finish of 10th at the spring race at Darlington Raceway. Those starts could be preparing him for a full-time move next season.

In a season where Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar were two of the likely favorites to move up in NASCAR competition, Heim flew under the radar of all those talks, and now he has a shot at landing a ride that could be better than where Smith and Hocevar end up.

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Entry List: 2023 UNOH 200

The loss of Heim would be a huge loss to TRICON Garage though. Heim has arguably been the one to elevate TRICON to a level where it can regularly compete for wins. Heim’s addition has arguably made every one of its drivers better.

So who could TRICON possibly go out and get to replace Heim?

Look no further than Jesse Love.

Love has won just about everything he’s entered in the ARCA Menards Series – back-to-back West championships, wins in all three of ARCA’s main and regional series, and is currently on pace for a record-breaking season in the main series. Love has already amassed nine wins on the season and is poised to clinch the championship before the season finale at Toledo Speedway.

Love is far and away one of the most talented prospects NASCAR has seen in quite a while, and with Love already having made two Truck Series starts this season with TRICON (including Gateway, where he ironically drove the No. 11 in place of Heim), Love should be the easy option to replace Heim if he is on his way out.

There could be some other options at TRICON’s disposal. There’s William Sawalich, who already confirmed to Frontstretch that he would be expanding his racing schedule in 2024 to include some Truck Series races. There’s also Toni Breidinger, a dark horse option mainly because of her sponsorship with Raising Cane’s chicken and the viewership she could attract to the series.

But it would be downright foolish of TRICON to not consider Love first. He’s arguably more talented than Heim, and with Heim’s success this season in the Truck Series, Love will only improve on that.

As the 2023 season wraps up and the 2024 season is just around the corner, driver promotions are only beginning, and Heim and Love are two drivers to look out for. They both could be competing in a new series when Daytona International Speedway rolls around in February.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

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. 

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

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