Race Weekend Central

TRICON Shines at COTA With 1-2 Finish, 5 Trucks in Top 10

AUSTIN, Texas — Corey Heim put on a clinic at Circuit of the Americas, as he led 31 of the 46 laps and survived two late restarts to score his first victory of the 2024 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season and the sixth of his career.

The win vaulted Heim to the points lead, and it ended Front Row Motorsports’ monopoly at COTA after it won the first three truck races at the 3.410-mile road course with Todd Gilliland and Zane Smith.

It was a special race for TRICON Garage beyond Heim, as the team placed five trucks in the top 10 for the first time in its history: Taylor Gray followed Heim to score a 1-2 finish, while Jack Hawksworth, Dean Thompson and Tanner Gray finished sixth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

It was a topsy-turvy day for the younger Gray, as Taylor served a pass-through penalty on lap 1 for cutting the course and later had to make an unscheduled stop after contact with Stefan Parsons resulted in right-front damage and a tire rub.

In the end, Gray came back on both occasions to tie his career-best finish of second.

“Obviously, not great at [minimizing mistakes], right?” Gray said. “We got a penalty at the beginning of the race for cutting the course there through the esses. So I just got to clean that up on my end and go back and look where I need to be better and how much I needed to be more down to the right to not get failed.”

Gray might’ve had a truck to challenge Heim at the end, but an overtime restart left the frontrunners close on fuel, and he had to nurse the truck home.

“I can’t thank these TRICON Garage guys enough, they brought me a really JBL Tundra TRD pro,” Gray said. “It’s a shame at the end, just started running out of fuel there, just couldn’t really attack and give the No. 11 any pressure.”

See also
Corey Heim Snags COTA Truck Win

Hawksworth — a 33-year-old Brit who’s a veteran of both IndyCar and IMSA — finished sixth in what marked his first foray into NASCAR since a NASCAR Xfinity Series start with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019.

“It was crazy,” Hawksworth said. “Obviously, it was kind of a lot of restarts, a lot of stuff going on. From our vantage point, I felt we were pretty good. For kind of the first stint, middle stint, definitely wasn’t as fast as Corey, but I think on pace we were maybe second or third. The last stint I was fighting with the No. 98 (Ty Majeski) and got on the inside of him and just smoked the left rear tire. … That made the last 45 minutes pretty difficult, so I just tried to bring it home.

“Guys have obviously done a great job, TRICON Garage guys gave me a great truck for me to jump in and fight for it and to bring it home with a nice little finish.”

For Thompson, the ninth-place finish marked his second top 10 of the season and his first on a road course.

“My race was pretty good,” Thompson said. “I’m not really good at road courses, so I put a lot of emphasis on this weekend, and I feel like the TRICON boys are good as a whole team. You know, Corey won and Jack did really well.

“… I could probably count the road courses [I’ve done] on my hands. The Thompson Pipe Group Toyota Tundra was quick, really quick. If the driver gets a little more experience, I think we finish a little better.”

But it was Heim who prevailed in dominating fashion to score his second road course win in a row after winning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last season.

“TRICON Garage, even last year, we unloaded great road course trucks,” Heim said. “I feel like there was a couple things that we could do better, and with the speed that we had last year, to be able to improve on that was pretty special.

“You know, I was really surprised to see us all up there at the end and more so just putting this all together as an organization was special … it shows the hard work and dedication at TRICON Garage.”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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