DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Attempting to become the next young star to follow in the footsteps of fellow African American drivers Wendell Scott and Bubba Wallace, rookie Rajah Caruth made a splash during the first on-track session of the season for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on Thursday.
Caruth sped to the fastest time in a one-hour practice at Daytona Int’l Speedway, posting a lap of 47.760 seconds (188.442 mph) around the 2.5-mile World Center of Racing.
The 20-year-old Washington, D.C., native will contest the full Truck Series season for GMS Racing and is coming off a year during which he finished third in ARCA Menards Series points for Rev Racing.
Caruth made four Truck Series and seven Xfinity Series appearances last year, with a best finish of 11th in his Truck Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway while driving for Spire Motorsports.
Christian Eckes turned the second-quickest single lap (47.774/188.387) in his first outing for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, after switching manufacturers and teams from last year in the Truck Series.
Kyle Busch Motorsports young guns Jack Wood (47.924/187.797) and Chase Purdy (47.957/187.668) were third and fifth on the speed charts, respectively, split by Henderson Motorsports’ Parker Kligerman (47.942/187.727).
Reigning ARCA Menards Series national champion Nick Sanchez placed sixth overall, followed by three-time Truck Series titlist Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Corey LaJoie and 71-year-old journeyman Norm Benning.
Past NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott was 13th-quick in a second McAnally-Hilgemann entry, with defending Truck Series champion Zane Smith 29th on the board just hours before he’ll attempt to race his way into the Daytona 500 during the Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona.
Qualifying for the NextEra Energy Resources 250, the season opener for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, is next up at 3 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.
Live coverage of Truck Series qualifying will be on FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.