By Tadd Haislop – ARCA Racing
WINCHESTER, Ind. — Over the last 60 or so circuits of Saturday night’s 200-lap race at Winchester Speedway, Ty Gibbs, running second, barely let more than a car length come between himself and Corey Heim. The race leader had his hands full with the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in his rear-view mirror.
This situation lasted until Lap 198, when Heim, fighting through lapped traffic, slowed just enough for Gibbs to get to his rear bumper.
Gibbs turned Heim and, after an overtime restart, went on to win the Calypso Lemonade 200.
The 18-year-old ARCA Menards Series points leader now has seven wins in 2021. The victory Saturday night at the high-banked half-mile extended his championship standings lead to seven points over Heim.
“We were really close (to Heim) for, I don’t know … a (long) time,” said Gibbs of the closing laps at Winchester. “(Heim’s) 20 got into (Thad Moffitt’s) No. 46. The 20’s entry to Turn 1 was really slow. I don’t know if they had issues with their car; it looked like he was free.
“And then right when he got into that 46, the 46 just checked up, and I hit him and drove through him. It’s just hard-fought racing.”
Asked about the incident with Gibbs, Heim could only think about his first opportunity to potentially exact revenge.
“All I’ve got to say is I could not be more excited for Watkins Glen,” said Heim, referring to next week’s race at the road course in upstate New York. “We haven’t spun the 18 out a single time or anything, but we just took it up a notch, so I’m really excited for Watkins Glen.”
Gibbs picked up the win despite his involvement in an incident on Lap 35 when he damaged his car making contact with and spinning Brandon Varney.
Heim crossed the finish line third behind second-place finisher Greg Van Alst, who set a new career-high with his podium run at his home track.
Moffitt finished fourth ahead of Taylor Gray in fifth.
Brandon Varney, Parker Chase, Kris Wright, Toni Breidinger, and Tony Cosentino rounded out the top 10.
The Gibbs-Heim tussle was the exclamation point on an action-packed Calypso Lemonade 200, the 12th race of the ARCA Menards Series season, and the sixth round of the 2021 Sioux Chief Showdown.
On Lap 84, Gray got into the back of Daniel Dye, sending the rookie’s No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet into the outside wall and eventually into an innocent Nick Sanchez.
Dye and Sanchez, both of whom showed race-winning speed at various points Saturday night, were knocked out of the race by the crash.
“I passed the 17 clean,” Dye said of Gray. “And he just right-hooked me. I’ve seen him race like that before, but it’s not the usual. I was pretty surprised. I watched the video already. He pushed me down to the apron in three and four, and I still kept it off of him, and then he right-hooked me.
“He’s got one coming.”
Saturday night’s race also represented Round 3 of the CGS Imaging Four Crown, a four-race series within the ARCA Menards Series that celebrates a diverse schedule with races at four different types of tracks: superspeedway, short track, road course, and dirt track.
Gibbs, who won both the superspeedway race at Kansas Speedway in May and the road course race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June, has now won all three Four Crown races contested to date. The final Four Crown race is the 100-lapper at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt track on Sept. 5.
Gibbs’ win also extends his lead over Heim in the Sioux Chief Showdown standings to 10 points.
As Heim noted, the ARCA Menards Series will return to action Saturday, Aug. 6, for the Clean Harbors 100 at The Glen at New York’s Watkins Glen International.
That race, also the seventh round of the Sioux Chief Showdown, will broadcast live on FS1 with a start time of 6 p.m. ET.
Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography