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You are right, it's likely that the bendix is hitting the flywheel teeth and not engaging fully.
I'd remove the inspection cover and check it visually while engaging the starter (probably safer with disabled ignition and a remote switch). The starter would need to be shimmed then.
Did you turn the motor by hand to see if its locked up or binding?
1990 IROCZ, 1994 Z28-ASE Certified Auto Tech
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