NC HBCU student, NASCAR Truck series driver Rahaj Caruth gets first win: 'More to come'

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Monday, March 4, 2024
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LAS VEGAS -- "There's more to come, for sure," that's what 21-year-old Spire Motorsports driver Rajah Caruth said moments after securing his first NASCAR Truck Series win from pole position Friday night.

An alumnus of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, Caruth is the third Black driver to win a NASCAR national series race, joining Hall of Famer Wendell Scott and Bubba Wallace.

Wallace took to social media to congratulate Caruth, calling it a "monumental win for our sport!"

Caruth a senior year at Winston-Salem State where he is pursuing a degree in motorsports management is the first HBCU student to win a NASCAR Series race.

It was a day for firsts for Caruth, who earlier Friday won the initial Truck Series pole of his career by 0.001 seconds over Christian Eckes. It was Caruth's pit crew that helped decide the issue.

During a 62-lap green-flag run to the finish, crew chief Chad Walter called Caruth's No. 71 Chevrolet to pit road early in the cycle. The over-the-wall crew performed a flawless stop, and after other contenders made their stops during the cycle, Caruth inherited the lead on Lap 114 with an advantage over Taylor Gray of nearly two seconds.

That margin enabled Caruth, who led 38 laps, to finish 0.851 seconds in front of fast-closing Tyler Ankrum, who passed Gray for second on Lap 120.

"It's surreal," Caruth said. "Thanks so much to and Mr. H (Hendrick) for putting me in this thing all year, and with the men and women at Spire.

"So many people have helped me get to this point, and I can't believe it. I just stayed cool. We lost track position in little portions of the race, and we stayed in the game. ... My guys got me a great stop, and we just executed."

A lack of execution ruined the chances of several contenders. Ty Majeski, who led a race-high 40 of the 134 laps and swept the first two stages, drew a penalty for speeding on pit road on Lap 102. So did Daytona winner Nick Sanchez, snuffing out a late rally. Defending race winner Kyle Busch's crew was guilty of a tire violation, preventing Caruth's Spire teammate from contending for the victory.

Raja Caruth (Photo: Winston-Salem State)