By: Ashley McCubbin
Corey Heim started off the ARCA Menards Series season really well, winning the opening event at Daytona International Speedway, followed by a runner-up at Phoenix Raceway. As he gets ready for the second restrictor plate event of 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway, the Venturini Motorsports competitor shared his thoughts with NEWS FROM THE PITS.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts going into the next ARCA event at Talladega?
COREY HEIM: Really looking forward to it. Me and Venturini Motorsports have really had a good start to the season being able to get that win at Daytona and a second at Phoenix. So I got a lot of confidence going to another restrictor plate track in Talladega; it should be good.
ASHLEY: When it comes to restrictor plate racing, how much of it is luck and how much is skill to have a good run?
COREY: I would say it’s pretty split down the middle, 50/50. Obviously, you have to have a good qualifying run in a shorter race like the ARCA race to strengthen your odds in not having a bad luck scenario in the race. A lot of is skill as well. You have to put yourself in position with teammates, if you have any, to help you at the end of the race. I’d defiantly say 50/50.
ASHLEY: And with having that win at Daytona, I imagine it gives you a confidence boost heading into the second restrictor plate event of the season.
COREY: Absolutely. Like I mentioned earlier, we had a lot of speed in the first two races and one of those was a restrictor plate track, so like you mentioned, going to Talladega with pretty much the same package and identical race track, I have a lot of confidence going into the next week.
ASHLEY: Looking past Talladega, what track are you most excited to get to on the schedule?
COREY: There’s a couple for me. There’s both of the road courses; I’ve never been to either of those two tracks. Road course racing is all new to me as I have little experience there, so looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to tracks that I’ve ran in the Late Model like Winchester, Berlin – those two tracks I haven’t been to with an ARCA car but been there in a Late Model.
So I am looking forward to those, and I guess I’ll put Kansas as we got the win there last year. Should’ve finished second in the first race as well, as we’ve had a lot of speed with this Venturini Motorsports team so it’s hard to pick just one.
ASHLEY: How beneficial is it to start off the year so strong with the win at Daytona followed by the runner-up at Phoenix?
COREY: It’s really important for us to have a good start to the season, which we have. We have such huge fields in the first two races – I think we just about a full ARCA field at Daytona and 30 cars at Phoenix. So if we had a DNF in either of those races, then we’ve dug ourselves a pretty big hole to get back out of.
Luckily, we ran pretty well in those races and don’t have to worry about the stress of DNFs in those races and we just have to follow it up with another run here.
ASHLEY: On the flip side, where do you feel you guys need to improve to be even stronger?
COREY: It’s really hard to say so far. I guess Phoenix we could’ve improved a little on our overall speed; we just missed the set-up there. I could be a better driver, as well, as I have a lot that I can improve upon in a lot of areas. That’s kind of the main thing – I am just looking to improve myself week-by-week and if we do that, I think we can start winning some races.
ASHLEY: You’ve been involved in the series for a couple years now. What do you feel has changed the most about yourself as a driver from where you started to where you are now?
COREY: I’ve definitely come a long way. I ran a part-time schedule in 2019 with a different team and ever since I came to Venturini and been a part of the Toyota program, it’s really bettered my skills on and off the track, just with my physical side of things and just my driving on the race track. Just since I’ve been part of the Toyota program, I feel I’ve bettered myself week to week.
ASHLEY: And what would it mean to you to be able to move up the ladder, whether that’s Trucks, Xfinity or Cup?
COREY: I think it’s ARCA a huge place to do that. I think if you can succeed in ARCA, it raises eyes for people at that next level. All I can do week-by-week is go out and do the best that I can and hope to win some races along the way, and obviously the championship would be extremely beneficial for me, too. Like I said, just really go out there perform, not make any mistakes, and hopefully it comes together for me.
ASHLEY: We see a lot of young faces involved in motorsports. What was it about racing that attracted you to want to be involved?
COREY: Well me and my dad used to watch it while I was at a young age, and we used to go to races as well and I was always interested in it from the very start. Honestly, me and my dad didn’t talk about it much until one year he surprised me with a go-kart. We went and tested a couple weeks after my birthday and from there, I fell in love with the sport and haven’t looked back since.
ASHLEY: Who would you consider your racing hero?
COREY: I would have to say Denny Hamlin. I grew up watching him. He was kind of my idol when I was growing up and he was always so good on the superspeedways and we got that win at Daytona, which he’s been really successful at these past couple of years, so that was huge for me. So just looking back on that, I thought it was pretty cool.
ASHLEY: Is there anything outside of stock cars that you’d love to get your hands behind the wheel of?
COREY: Honestly, I don’t get that question a lot. I think open-wheel racing is awesome – the dirt side and the asphalt side. I’m really interested in F1 and dirt midgets as well – a bunch of other forms of motorsports. As of now, I have put all my cards in, all my chips on the ARCA Series and what I am focusing on right now, but I would love to try other forms of racing down the road.
ASHLEY: Putting all those cards on the table, if everything pans out and you win the championship, what would that mean to you?
COREY: It’d mean everything for me personally, my family, and my career as well. It’s going to be tough for sure; there’s no doubt about it, but I’m going to put my best effort forward. If it comes together, it comes together. But I just don’t want to look back and regret anything I do and felt I could’ve done better. So I’m just taking it week-by-week and doing the best that I can so we have the best shot that I can at the title.