A late race incident and theatrics between Bubba Pollard and Stephen Nasse left the door wide open for a surprise winner in Saturday night’s CRA Speedfest at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Georgia.
Two native sons of the Peach State delivered in the form of Corey Heim and Kyle Plott.
The race came down to a two-lap shootout with Heim and Plott swapping the lead several times and culminated in a drag race down the frontstretch. In the end, Heim defeated Plott by 0.027 in a photo finish.
It was a rematch of the 2018 CARS Tour Super Late Model finish at Orange County Speedway in North Carolina with two exchanging the lead several times before Plott emerged victorious over Heim.
Heim got one back over a driver that he has immense respect for.
“It was crazy man,” Heim said in victory lane. “Kyle and I — we always leave it all on the racetrack. He’s a great guy. I’ve had a couple of races like that with him. Door-to-door to the finish and the win. Those last two laps, it was all on the track, and I just knew I needed to win more than anyone else in the field.”
Heim has had several marquee victories taken away from him in painstaking fashion. In addition to the race at Orange County against Plott, Heim is considered by many the rightful winner of the 2018 ValleyStar 300 at Martinsville Speedway which ended under controversial circumstances with CE Falk declared the winner despite running behind Heim when the final caution waved.
Heim had two Late Model Stock victories taken from him under disqualification at South Boston Speedway – also under dubious circumstances.
That was not lost on Heim upon winning one of the mid-major marquee Super Late Model races on Saturday night.
“It’s almost surreal,” he said. “It feels like a dream come true. I can’t thank my team enough and Toyota. They did it all for me.”
That team, by the way, is Jett Motorsports, the first race of a new partnership between Heim and the Florida based team that also fields cars for Stephen Nasse.
And despite coming up short, Plott was all smiles upon climbing out of his Super Late Model.
“Everyone said, ‘where’d you come from’ and we came from dead last is where we came from,” Plott said after restarting at the tail-end of the field with 17 laps to go.
He took his remaining two tires at the end and surged through the field, capitalizing on the theatrics between Pollard and Nasse.
“I was scared I wasn’t going to get them right sides,” he said. “We kept working on it and making it better and was in the right spot when those cautions fell our way.”
Was there anything Plott would have done differently on the green-white-checkered finish?
“I’m kicking myself for letting myself get around him in Turn 1 so he could do the crossover,” Plott said. “It’s easy to play arm-chair QB. I got him at Orange County a few years ago and he got me tonight.”
Spotter Lloyd Garner has been with Heim since the beginning and guided the 17-year-old driver through his intense battle with Plott. Garner knew he could trust Plott to race clean and hard because they worked together in the Pro Late Model race earlier in the afternoon.
“I knew we had the position we needed to be in,” Garner said. “Kyle is a really professional driver. I spotted for him earlier today and he races the right way. When he got under Corey, I told him to crossover in Turns 1 and 2, and he sure did.
“He stuck it in there and got the position on him. I told him to hold him hard to the outside and race him to the checkers.
The victory was especially rewarding for Garner, considering he was there for those heartbreaks in 2018 at Martinsville and South Boston.
“I went and did some NASCAR stuff in 2018, but came back last year because they wanted me to work with Corey,” Garner said. “I wanted to fulfill some professional goals of mine in NASCAR. But it’s been a rollercoaster ride. Corey had gotten down on himself and I try to be there to hold him up like anyone would.
“To come here and to win a race like this to start the year is really special.”
The complete results can be found below.
1. Corey Heim
2. Kyle Plott
3. Dawson Fletcher
4. Willie Allen
5. Daniel Dye
6. Jake Garcia
7. Jeff Fultz
8. Brandon Jones
9. Brian Campbell
10. Tyler Roahrig
11. Steve Dorer
12. Hudson Halder
13. Shefflon Clay
14. David Hodges
15. Eric White
16. Bubba Pollard
17. Stephen Nasse
18. Kyle Sieg
19. Jeremy Pate
20. Travis Braden
21. Gabe Sommers
22. Jeff Firestine
23. John Coffman
24. Connor Okrzesik
25. Nicholas Naugle
26. Jack Dossey III
27. Greg Van Alst