Caruth Rolled The Bones At Vegas

Rajah Caruth

Rajah Caruth made a promise after taking the checkered flag in the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“There’s more to come, for sure,” said the 21-year-old Spire Motorsports driver moments after securing his first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win from the pole position in Friday night’s race.

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

It was a day for firsts for Caruth, who earlier on Friday won the initial Truck Series pole of his career by 0.001 seconds over Christian Eckes.

But 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 the second spot on Lap 120.

“It’s surreal,” said Caruth. “Thinks so much to (sponsor) HendrickCars.com 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. But with Busch winning last week at Atlanta, Spire now has two straight victories.

In the closing laps, Ankrum could see Caruth tantalizingly in front of him, just out of reach.

“I wish we would have had 10 more laps, and I think we could have gotten it,” said Ankrum, who retained his series lead by five points over second-place Majeski. “But we tend to say that a lot in racing. I wish we would have been able to do it, but I think our time is coming.”

Corey Heim finished third as is seven points behind Ankum in the standings. Caruth climbed one spot from fifth to fourth, 10 points out of the series lead.

Gray ran fourth on Friday, followed by Christopher Bell. Eckes, Matt Crafton, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger and Majeski completed the top 10. Busch finished 15th, one lap down.

Notes: Chevrolet won its second straight race at the track, after breaking a streak of seven straight Toyota victories last year… Caruth’s win was the 11th from the pole position in 32 Truck races at LVMS—a remarkable percentage of 34.4.

Check out the results of The Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.