For a moment it seemed as if Rajah Caruth might pull of the victory in the General Tire 200 at Talladega on Saturday. But Caruth gave up the lead on a late restart and finished in sixth place after the race was called on the final caution of the day.
The effort was certainly one to take pride in as Caruth raced from his 19th starting position to lead the pack late in the race. Coming into the race second in points in the Menard Arca Series, Caruth missed all of the big accidents of the day and was consistently in the top five all afternoon long.
The race was won by Caruth’s Rev Racing teammate Nick Sanchez who started fourth in the race. The race didn’t run its completed distance after race officials announced the race would end if another caution came out. With nine laps remaining and cars spinning behind him Sanchez surged from the outside line of cars and jumped ahead of Corey Heim as the yellow flag waved.
Late decision leaves drivers upset
Hardly anyone, if anyone at all, was pleased with ARCA’s decision that a caution would end the race. Officials said they need to ensure the Xfinity Race would start on time and didn’t want to risk another stoppage. There had previously been a red flag caution that stopped the race completely after a huge crash.
Caruth was leading the race and selected the outside line on the restart before hearing about the decision. His teammate and eventual winner Sanchez chose the inside. Caruth would have chosen otherwise had he known in time.
“In (turn) three coming to the green the Tower says next flag will end the race, and if they had said that before we chose then I wouldn’t have picked the top. It changed the outcome of the race, so we were kind of screwed from that point,” Caruth said after the race.
This was just the second restrictor plate race for Caruth, with the first coming at Daytona in February. Caruth seemed more at ease with the closeness of the pack racing at Talladega. He even made a bold pullout move in traffic to take the lead.
“It was awesome seeing how racy it was today, it was fun. Not just staying in line. I learned a lot so the next time I go plate racing I’ll be even more confident,” he said.
The ARCA series, which races one per month, will be back in action on May 14 at the Kansas Speedway. Caruth will be back on the track before then. He’s set to make his second of six appearances in the Xfinity Series at Dover, Delaware on April 30.
Caruth is currently a student at Winston-Salem State University.