TRICON Garage driver Corey Heim was made available to media as part of the NASCAR Truck Series Playoff Media Day on Tuesday:
COREY HEIM, No. 11 Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
How do you continue the momentum going into the Playoffs?
“I would say our consistency over the last two or three months has been really good – just being able to collect a lot of stage points and get some top-fives and wins along the way. I think as long as we are able to continue that and continue the momentum heading into the Playoffs, we will be in really good shape.”
How much does the regular season championship mean to you?
“I think from a logistical viewpoint as far as the amount of Playoff points that put us ahead – it definitely means a lot. Just being able to have that buffer going into the Playoffs, and not have that close counter with the Playoff cutline, right from the start. I feel like it is nice to start the Playoffs off with a little less stress and being able to go from there. I feel like at the same time, if you have one bad race, one DNF and you are kind of back to earth again. I feel like that there’s positives and negatives to it. I think that kind of stems from the Playoff format as it is, but it is certainly not a bad thing to be the regular season champion, but I guess there could be more to put us ahead.”
What do you and your team have to do to make the Championship 4?
“Well, I think he wrecked like twice in the last round, so that’s a good place to start and not do that. Just do what we’ve been doing – not put ourselves in bad positions, keep on getting stage points and finishing races well. I think these last couple months have been a really good display of consistency for us and as long as we carry that through and hopefully collect some wins along the way, we will be in good shape.”
Is there anything specific that you are working on as a driver?
“The main thing is just closing races out. There has been a couple of instances this year where we’ve led the most laps, and had the best truck, and I feel like we kind of faded at the end. As an organization, we’ve been working on our longer runs and how to improve that on a weekly basis. As a driver, I think I have to get better too at keeping the tires on it and pacing myself for the end of the race, just to put ourselves in a better position come 10 laps to go. If we have a weak point, I feel like that is our weak point right now – is just finishing races out, but if anything, that’s it.”
How important is it start the Round of 10 strong?
“It’s vital to start the round right and have a good run at IRP. That’s a tough place, because there is just not a lot of experienced drivers there, so I feel like there is going to be some chaos ensuing for the first couple of stages, and then I think everybody kind of settles it out in the third stage for the most part. Then you have Milwaukee – that is a completely unknown race track for most people as well. It is going to be super important for us as drivers to be on top of it and prepare the best we possibly can, because you can’t really rely on experience, because most people have little to none at those race tracks, but then we go to Kansas, which is kind of the opposite, where everyone has laps there, that’s in the Playoffs. We raced there in the Spring already, so everyone is in the same mindset on what they have to do better.”
What is your approach to the Playoffs, and did you get any advice?
“I feel like we try to take it one race at a time. I’ve never really tried to be a type of person that projects throughout the year. I feel like, people have told me the same thing – take it one race at a time, don’t stress about the next one until you get there. I’ve been able to lean on my crew chief Scott Zipadelli a lot with his Playoff experience. I did kind of race the Owner’s Playoffs last year with KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) with the No. 51 truck. I raced every Playoff race, so I got a taste of what that is like, but it’s certainly a lot more stressful being in drivers and owners, so taking it one race at a time is the most important thing to me.”
What expectation do you have for your first Playoff run?
“I feel like just going out and being on top of it from the very beginning is going to be really important. Just being able to unload at IRP in practice and being on top of it as soon as we get there. Have a good practice, qualify well, get a good pit selection and just run up front all race. If you put yourself in a hole early, it’s really hard to recover from that, so I think just being in the right mindset going into IRP and following that up with Milwaukee and Kansas, and then the next two rounds is going to be very important.”
How important was it to have the duel with Kyle Busch in Pocono?
“I think for me it just shows that nothing is guaranteed. We had the race won coming to the white flag. I saw him like 10 truck lengths back in the mirror going into (turn) one. I thought we were in good shape, and the next thing you know, he’s blowing my doors off. I think just to always be on top of it. You can never take a deep breath and call the races quits, not that I did, but I feel like it really puts it in perspective at the same time. It really shows you have to be on it, every single race. There is no time for relaxing, you just have to be mentally aware of everyone at all times.”
Toyota Racing PR