Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Not Even North Wilkesboro Flooding Can Stop Corey Heim

In a Nutshell

It only took 24 hours, but the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was somehow able to squeeze all 250 laps in its annual trip to North Wilkesboro Speedway.

However, Corey Heim still managed to prevail over them all, taking home his third win of the year in Wilkes County.

See also
Corey Heim Scores 3rd Truck Win of 2024 at North Wilkesboro

Don’t underestimate the 24 hours, either. Weather forced NASCAR to suspend the race on Saturday (May 18) after 81 laps due to lightning. Rain began to fall, however, and a lot of it fell for a long time.

The rain was so bad that the drainage at North Wilkesboro couldn’t keep up, and eventually turn 1 and the exit of pit road were completely submerged underwater.

When the race resumed Sunday morning (May 19), the sun was out and the track was dry — perfect conditions for Heim to take the lead on lap 186 and never look back.

The Top Truckers at North Wilkesboro Speedway

Winner, Most Laps Led (66 of 250 laps): Corey Heim
Polesitter: Christian Eckes
Stage 1 Winner: Ty Majeski
Stage 2 Winner: Tyler Ankrum
Biggest Mover: Sammy Smith (started 31st, finished fifth)
Rookie of the Race: Layne Riggs and Brenden Queen

Top Storylines of the Race

  • While 38 trucks originally entered the race, only 37 showed up. Justin Carroll revealed on Facebook Thursday (May 16) that he would withdraw from the race. Carroll said that on Wednesday (May 15), he was so sick he went to the emergency room. Despite feeling better Thursday, he still didn’t feel well enough to make the trip from Virginia. Carroll and his No. 90 team will attempt their third race of the year at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was also due to run the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car race at North Wilkesboro on Wednesday, but likely backed out for said reason — not that it mattered, as the race was rained out and postponed.
  • Since 37 trucks showed up, one driver had to go home after qualifying. Unfortunately, qualifying was rained out (like many other events over the week) and the field was set by the metric. Unfortunately, Aric Almirola, attempting his first Truck Series start since 2012, and Hattori Racing Enterprises, attempting its first start since 2023, were the unlucky group to miss out on racing at North Wilkesboro.
  • If I had a nickel for every restart violation committed in this race, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice. Sammy Smith had to serve a pass-through penalty at the very start of the race after a restart violation on the initial start. Then, on the final restart before the end of stage 2, Nick Sanchez was also black-flagged for a restart violation.
  • It was another race where the drivers raced relatively clean — well, as clean as they could on a short track. The biggest incident of the race was when Conner Jones spun in turn 4 and crunched his left rear. He then lost power steering and went behind the wall before being called (again) to the NASCAR hauler after the race.

The Winning Move

Jake Garcia played an alternate strategy for the final stage, hoping to find a stroke of luck and take an upset win, or at the very least, a season-best finish. While he ended up leading 40 laps and scoring some stage points, he was no match for Heim, who passed him on lap 186 and took off.

Fortunately for Heim, the race went clean and green to the end, which allowed him to check out for the win. Meanwhile, Garcia slipped all the way down to 21st, as his strategy just couldn’t work out in his favor.

Championship Rundown

Nobody new locks themselves into the playoffs, meaning six spots remain open with six races left. Eckes holds just a four-point lead over Heim for the regular season championship lead, while everyone else is mathematically over one race behind the two.

Tanner Gray holds the 10th and final playoff spot by just two points over Matt Crafton. However, position Nos. 8-11 in points are separated by just six points.

These playoffs are far from decided.

Rookie Report

In the end, the short track guys led the way.

Riggs finally found a stroke of luck, finishing a season-best third. He was running second for most of the final stage but was unable to hold off Grant Enfinger for the runner-up spot.

Right behind him, however, was a fan favorite.

Brenden Queen, affectionately known as “Butterbean” among the short track world, used his short track expertise to surge from 26th to fourth in his NASCAR debut.

It was too difficult to decide between one of them for Rookie of the Race, so for the first time since I began writing this column, two drivers will share Rookie of the Race.

No. 1 – Brenden Queen (fourth)
No. 04 – Clayton Green (34th)
No. 7 – Sammy Smith (fifth)
No. 26 – Dawson Sutton (28th)
No. 38 – Layne Riggs (third)
No. 46 – Thad Moffitt (31st)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (35th)

One Big Takeaway From This Race

For the first time in what seems like ages, NASCAR got a repave right.

Before North Wilkesboro’s repave, the age of the track’s surface made it almost like a mini-Darlington Raceway with the way it ate up tires.

But as with most repaves (see: Kentucky Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, etc.), the racing isn’t as good as hoped.

Not at North Wilkesboro.

The track got so wide that it became a “comfortable 3-wide racetrack,” according to Tyler Ankrum (see below), which made for some great racing throughout Sunday afternoon.

The All-Star Race shortly after was more of the same. It was truly a great race for the Trucks. Hopefully, as North Wilkesboro ages, the racing will only get better from here.

But this was a great start for the repave. Despite the rain.

Talkin’ Truckers

Heim on the win:

Queen finishes fourth on debut with massive cheers from the crowd:

Polesitter Eckes recapped a spirited battle with Queen en route to a sixth-place finish:

Enfinger, Riggs, Ankrum, Majeski, and Garcia break down their variable afternoons:

Paint Scheme of the Race

One week after running an awesome-looking Buck Baker throwback at Darlington Raceway, Spencer Boyd and his self-owned Freedom Racing Enterprises team brought back the self-dubbed “Bomber” paint scheme.

With fitting sponsorship from Latitude Aero, Boyd’s No. 76 features a silver, aircraft-like paint job, complete with rivets to make the scheme look even more like an actual aircraft.

At a quick glance, Boyd’s red number, combined with the silver paint scheme, makes his truck look like Sterling Marlin‘s old Coors Light No. 40 from the early 2000s.

The Bomber has run once before this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Boyd finished 22nd. At North Wilkesboro, Boyd brought the Bomber home 32nd, but not before receiving a penalty for leaving pit road with the jack still under his truck after the pit stop following stage 1.

Next Stop

We’re staying local. In fact, we’re just gonna pack up and go home.

No, really.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for its annual home track race. Crew members who normally don’t get to travel with teams have a prime opportunity to watch their truck compete with the track located in the hub of most race shops.

Ben Rhodes is the defending winner of the race. Rhodes also took home an extra $50,000 with him courtesy of the Triple Truck Challenge. Speaking of which, the Challenge returns this year, with Charlotte serving as the opening race. There’s an extra $50,000 on the line to the winner of the race.

Coverage for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday, May 24. FOX Sports 1 will carry the television broadcast, while Motor Racing Network continues its season-long radio broadcast of the Truck Series.

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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