COREY HEIM, No. 11 Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
What is your mindset heading into Phoenix?
“It’s been a good season for us for sure. There was a lot of question marks coming into 2023 with a new team, organization – and for me, a new crew chief and spotter. All new stuff, with a lot of question marks, but we really put together such a solid season and so much progress from start to finish. Super thankful for TRICON Garage and Toyota Racing for all the support. I wouldn’t be in this position without them. It has been such a cool year to see all of the progress and hard work people have put in from start to bottom in this organization and all of the support from TRD as well. We’ve got one more, hopefully we can keep it going – one more big one to win, and hopefully we complete a good year for us.”
Can you tell me more about you decision to stay in the Truck Series next year?
“I think for me TRICON was the best organization for me in 2024. I’m on a winning race team – my goal is to win races. I never want to be in a position where I’m not confident in my team and my organization. With TRICON, I’m super confident in them and their organization and the support with everybody. I’m not super focused on 2025 and beyond yet. For 2024, my goals are to win more races and just put together a solid season and up my resume for the future, but for now just focused on 2024 and of course on the last race of 2023, but as far as future plans, I’m focused on 2024. I think it was the best landing spot for me and my options. I’m excited to keep it going with TRICON in 2024.”
Do you envision that you can jump from Truck Series to the Cup Series or do you think you will run in the Xfinity Series in the future?
“I would just have to weigh my options, same at the end of this year. I really have no plans past 2024 as far as now. Depending on how the year goes, and how I feel and how confident I am in my abilities, I’ll kind of make that decision in the fall of next year. I could really see myself going anywhere. There is nothing saying that I can’t jump through the Xfinity Series or what not, but certainly I will just have to find out. It could go either way, really.”
Can you confirm your last championship – 2017 Thunder Pro division in Atlanta and the 2016 Young Lions?
“I believe so, yes. For me personally, I’ve really only had one full time season in something since then really. I’ve run some CARS Tour here-and-there, I was competing for the ARCA championship in 2021, but my career has been made of a lot of par time stuff, so it is really cool to finally get the opportunity to run for a championship and have a solid full-time season behind me. Of course, we were going for the owners championship last year, but for a driver, it is a lot more motivating to go for that driver’s championship. Definitely fortunate to be able to chase that this year.”
Is there anything from those 2016 or 2017 point championships that you can remember and relate to this?
“It’s funny that you say that because at Atlanta Motor Speedway we had a Playoff format very similar to this, for whatever reason, I thought it was really weird at the time for the 10 drivers that were running full time in the series, but yeah, we had a Championship 4 or whatever, when I was battling for that championship, so hopefully, we can run it back.”
What does a driver do when you have so much time to prepare for this championship race?
“I feel like the last five or six weeks have been really good for me. Phoenix isn’t particularly my greatest track that I’ve been too. Fortunately, I do have experience there – I have a couple of ARCA races under my belt that I’m able to look back and see what I could have done better in those races to apply to this race. Phoenix is a really interesting race track. It is not super technical, but there is definitely a lot of studying opportunities to sit back and kind of observe it and progressively get better. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of time to do that and I’m a pretty analytical person just as far as my studying and what I do to prepare. I remember, last year in 2022 and in 2021 as well, running part-time with KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) I had so much time in between races – just because I was part-time – I feel like races that I had three or four more weeks to prepare, I did really well in, and I felt really prepared when I showed up to the race track. I don’t personally believe in over preparing. I think you can over think it but if you can’t over prepare. I’ve really been focused on preparing the right way and using sim times with Toyota Racing to the best of my abilities, and I really think I’m really confident I’m prepared for Phoenix.”
Can you tell me something that Toyota has provided you that 15-year-old Corey wouldn’t have thought of?
“I think just when I was growing up, I didn’t realize how important it is to prepare during the week as far as just taking care of yourself and being physically prepared, as well as mentally prepared. Having the Toyota Performance Center in Mooresville is really useful for us to be able to keep ourselves in physical shape, but they have so many other resources as far as nutritionists, and physical therapists and sports psychologists – you name it. I guess that is not something I really expected to need in the future. I’ve always trusted the process with Toyota Racing and trusted their resources, and for me, it has always been something that I can use as long as I’ve been a part of the program. I’ve always had faith that they would put me in the best position possible to succeed, and ever since I’ve been a part of them in 2020 – they’ve done just that. Definitely grateful for everyone at Toyota Racing and TRD, from the Salisbury location, to the Mooresville, to everyone from outside locations that helps with other things as well. Very grateful for them.”
How would you assess your three competitors for the championship?
“Throughout the year, I feel like they’ve all been really competitive. I’ve finished second to each one of them at some point. I feel like we’ve really been the best truck consistently throughout the year, but with the Playoff format and it being a one race scenario. You just show up, and you have the best truck, and you are the most prepared and you have the best driver, you are going to win the race. It really doesn’t matter how the rest of your season has gone. For me, it is just focusing on the one race and focusing on myself – not really looking at the other competitors too much, but they are all great drivers. As you mentioned, a former champion and the other two have won at least three races a piece this year, so definitely not any slouches there. I think it is going to be really competitive and I’m just going to focus on myself and show up and do the best of my abilities.”
When you prepare, do you focus on your run at Phoenix last season or similar tracks that you ran this year?
“For me, it is all Phoenix. I don’t really look into similar tracks too much. The truck package hasn’t changed much in a long time, so that gives us the ability to kind of read back into last year. I know the track changes here and there, but configuration wise, the track hasn’t changed much, and as far as the truck, it hasn’t changed much either. I definitely look at previous years – I’ve raced there the last year for the finale as well, and throughout we were relatively good, but I’ve learned a lot since then – I feel like just being able to improve on the last performances from Truck and ARCA there is big for me, but yeah, I just read into Phoenix for the most part.”