Rajah Caruth: ‘Super Thankful, Excited for More’ After Las Vegas Win

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Rajah Caruth overcame the uncertainty of whether he would be racing in 2024, how often, and where, to break through for a historic victory in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS).

Prior to the 2024 season, with GMS Racing closing its’ doors, Caruth was left without a ride. However, a relationship that started in the season-finale helped the first-generation driver land an opportunity with Spire Motorsports. Caruth drove the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro SS at Phoenix Raceway last fall to a top-15 finish.

Rajah caruth was relieved to finally break through for this first career nascar craftsman truck series victory at las vegas motor speedway.
March 1, 2024: NASCAR races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography)

The Washington, D.C. native parlayed that sponsorship from Rick Hendrick (Mr. H)’s company into a 10-race sponsorship. After a top-five run in the season-opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway and a top-10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he then turned that into a full season sponsorship.

“(It) would have been tough not having a family that owns the team or not being born into this right?” Caruth observed. “I got really lucky and fortunate that (Hendrick and I) started that relationship last year and that they believe in me enough to have me represent them not just here at the racetrack, but all the things that I do away from the track. I’m just super thankful and excited for more.” 

Caruth took the lead with 20 laps to go in the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at LVMS after a cycle of green flag pit stops. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum slowly increased his lead over Taylor Gray to over two seconds. Navigating his way through lapped traffic, that lead over both Tyler Ankrum and Gray narrowed to about one second. However, neither driver had enough time to catch the driver of the No. 71 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado.

Rajah caruth was relieved to finally break through for this first career nascar craftsman truck series victory at las vegas motor speedway.
1 MARCH 2024 During the VICTORIA’S VOICE FOUNDATION 200 at the LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY in LAS VEGAS, NV (Photo by Tim Parks/Harold Hinson Photography)

The victory is the culmination of a five-year journey from iRacing to the Drive for Diversity youth program at the Cook Out Summer Shootout, the Late Models and ARCA Menards Series, and now the Truck Series. Caruth showed splashes of talent in both the Xfinity Series and Truck Series over the past two years. However, he was concerned about whether he’d get the chance to showcase that talent due to a lack of funding.

“I’m just pretty speechless, it’s been tough journey so far,” Caruth said. A lot of people have helped me get to this point and thank you to every single one of y’all. (I’ve) definitely (had) ups and downs, but this journey has been fruitful at times and testing at times. But I’m just super grateful for Mr. H because he’s the only reason why I got in this thing full-time.

“This winter there was a lot of uncertainty about where I’d be driving, not having a bunch of funding behind me at the time, and I just stayed true to my faith and my family. Fortunately, a lot of people will just put a lot of stuff together for me to be in this spot. I’m glad I made the most of it tonight and to be locked into the playoffs.” 

During the final 20 laps, Caruth handled his Chevrolet like a veteran. After winning his first career pole position earlier in the day at LVMS, he got advice about the race from his teammate, NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch. He also learned on track, following the 65-time Truck Series winner in the first stage.

The maturity that Caruth showed allowed him to maximize the gap he had over his competitors in the closing laps.

“Honestly, I was just thinking what I need to do if a caution came out, just trying to make it live to the end just with how my balance of my truck goes all night, but just being prepared for anything, right?” Caruth admitted. “It’s easy to get really excited and stuff and miss your marks and just get caught up in the moment. I just tried to execute and fortunately no yellow came out and it worked out for us.” 

Caruth’s victory marks the latest for drivers with a sim racing background. He joins 2024 Daytona 500 winner William Byron as ‘winners who started racing on a computer.’ However, the 21-year-old, despite his success in Late Models and on iRacing, didn’t always think that reaching victory lane was possible.

“Man, there was a lot of days, especially in high school, that I did not think I could get here,” Caruth admitted. “I can’t tell you how many times I was at internship in my junior year working at the GW’s, it’s like their basketball court, in the box office and just working on my website when I was just iRacing and a lot of those days I didn’t think this would be at all possible.

“I just got to thank my dad and my mom and my sister just because they’ve sacrificed a lot to move me to North Carolina to be a product of the NASCAR Driver Diversity Program. That’s really cool. That’s 20 years. I didn’t know that. That’s really cool. Shout out to them, Max Siegel, and NASCAR for believing in me from (the start).” 

Ultimately, the breakthrough victory was more a send of relief for Caruth. The Caribbean American driver had not won since Late Models in 2021. That season he also became the first African American to win at Tri-County Motor Speedway, having family heritage in both cultures. Fast forward to 2024, and he is now just the third African American driver to win in NASCAR’s three National Touring Series, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott and his mentor, Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace.

Earning that first win doesn’t change the mindset for Caruth, his crew chief Chad Walter, or his Spire Motorsports team.

“It doesn’t really (change my mindset)” Caruth said. “I just feel relieved right to be locked in a playoff spot. Besides that, it doesn’t change anything, right? We prepare just as hard and do all the little things the best way we can each race and adjust accordingly.

“So, it doesn’t really change my outlook for the rest of the season, I definitely feel relief because I literally haven’t won anything since I was racing Late Models. I’ve been close, and the ARCA stuff I raced over the last couple of years and obviously a couple times last year. To finally get a win, it’s been a long time, but it feels special.”

Caruth now has two weeks to savor in his first career victory before the Weather Guard Truck Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, March 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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