Tadd Hislop | ARCA Racing
ELKO NEW MARKET, Minn. — Corey Heim was not thinking about the ongoing ARCA Menards Series championship battle between himself and Ty Gibbs as he raced in the closing laps of Saturday night’s Menards 250 at Elko Speedway.
He was thinking about revenge.
In what the 19-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, described as a retaliation for his rival’s aggressive driving earlier in the event on the 3/8-mile paved oval, Heim, who restarted third with three laps to go in the wake of a late caution, nudged the race leader Gibbs out of the way on the evening’s final drop of the green flag. The pilot of the No. 20 Craftsman Toyota for Venturini Motorsports assumed the lead and proceeded to coast to his fourth win of the 2021 season.
“We also have a couple dents on the left rear, the left side door and the left front,” Heim responded in his post-race interview when asked about the damage on his car sustained in the incident with Gibbs. “That’s all from (Gibbs), as well. I think that’s pretty much even right there. He’s probably mad because he lost like he usually is. …
“Just paid back what he did to me earlier in the race. That’s all it comes down to.”
Added Heim when asked whether his late move on Gibbs was a plan: “No comment.”
Gibbs, who dropped to a fourth-place finish at Elko after leading the majority of the 250 laps before the contact with Heim, chose not to respond with hostility in his post-race interview.
“No reason to worry about anything,” said the 18-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver. “No reason to have any issues. He’s got planned out for me, so I’ll just follow along. I’m happy where I’m at.”
Heim entered Saturday night’s Elko race, the ninth of 20 on the ARCA Menards Series schedule, with a three-point edge over Gibbs for the lead in the standings. His win extends that lead to seven points even though Gibbs received one bonus point for earning the General Tire Pole Award on Saturday.
The Menards 250 also was the third round of the 2021 Sioux Chief Showdown. Gibbs still leads Heim by four points in that series.
Heim and Gibbs remain the only drivers who have won in the ARCA Menards Series this season, with the latter having a series-high five victories.
Heim’s note of Gibbs’ prior aggression at Elko was a reference to a battle the two had for the lead early in the race. After a side-by-side run that lasted multiple laps, Gibbs got the best of Heim with a nudge to the No. 20’s left rear.
Heim from that point battled his own race car as much as the competition. Crew chief Shannon Rursh and Co. were finally able to get their Camry tuned the way Heim needed during the second of two scheduled race breaks Saturday night.
“Struggled a little bit in the middle portion of the race, and kind of at the end there, as well,” said Heim, who now has five ARCA Menards Series wins dating back to last season. “But we were there when it counted, and that’s all that matters.”
ARCA Menards Series rookies Jesse Love and Gracie Trotter finished second and third, respectively, to give Venturini Motorsports a one-two-three finish at Elko. Both logged new career-best finishes in the series.
Taylor Gray finished fifth. The 16-year-old David Gilliland Racing driver showed winning speed at various points in his first race after being sidelined for 13 weeks with injuries sustained in an April street car accident.
Nick Sanchez, Daniel Dye, Willie Mullins, Thad Moffitt and Adam Lemke rounded out the top 10.
Saturday night’s race was the first of a stretch of four consecutive Saturday night short track races for the ARCA Menards Series, all of which are scheduled to broadcast live on MAVTV with live streams available on NBC Sports Gold’s TrackPass.
The series returns to action Saturday, July 17 for the Zinsser Smart Coat 200 at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan. That race will start shortly after 8 p.m. ET.