NASCAR penalizes Corey Heim for wrecking Carson Hocevar in Phoenix truck race
Heim was fined $12,500 and docked 25 points for the move, which came with three laps remaining in the race. At the time, Grant Enfinger had a comfortable edge on the other championship finalists but the caution for that accident then bunched up the field.
The race then turned into ultimate chaos with three additional wrecks on restarts before NASCAR finally was able to finish 29 laps beyond the scheduled distance. Ben Rhodes won the title.
The points penalty drops Heim from third to fourth in the standings (Hocevar moves to third). The monetary difference between the spots in the year-end drivers bonus fund is likely a few thousand dollars.
Heim had led 47 laps and was driving through the field on fresher tires when, after passing Hocevar on Lap 120, Hocevar got into the back of Heim, spinning him. Both drivers were able to continue and Heim, whose rally was falling short in hopes of winning the title, pinched Hocevar into the wall with three laps remaining.
Both drivers said their accidents were unintentional, but NASCAR saw Heim’s move differently. Heim, on his in-car radio, said after the accident “he ain’t getting out of here tonight.”
NASCAR issued similar penalties to Denny Hamlin in Cup and Sheldon Creed in Xfinity this year with the amount of the fine being less because the truck series payouts are the lowest among the three series.
A spokesman for Heim’s Tricon team said they had no comment on the penalty, which can be appealed.
“With him on my door, I lost all my side force and lost control,” Heim said in his postrace news conference. “Super unfortunate. … You can go watch my in-car camera. I about wrecked five times before that, so just unfortunate coincidence.”
Both Heim and Enfinger said afterward they felt like they had a championship taken from them.
“I think Corey had probably the best truck there, but just unfortunate that that kind of incident was retaliation or whatever, and obviously I feel like we had the championship in our grasp,” Enfinger said.
Ironically, the driver who started everything ended up moving up a spot in the points. After exiting the medical center Friday night, Hocevar wouldn’t criticize Heim’s apparent retaliatory move.
“I feel bad I robbed them of that [title],” Hocevar said. “I just feel sorry for them. … I deserve it if it was [intentional]. I just messed up.”
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
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