Rajah Caruth is all about winning, but dominating in NASCAR doesn’t happen overnight. Despite finishing off the lead lap in his second ever Camping World Truck Series race, there were some positives to take away from Saturday’s race in Richmond.
Caruth showed that he was capable of putting together great speed in his truck over the weekend. He was fifth quickest in Saturday afternoon’s practice session before qualifying. During his two qualifying laps he didn’t match the same speed but he understood why. After ultimately qualifying 28th, Caruth acknowledged that he didn’t clean his rear tires off good on the track which caused him to lose traction exiting one of the corners. That slight hiccup put him in the middle of the pack to start Saturday night’s race. Understanding one’s mistakes and the relation to the accompanying results is gainful experience and insight.
Even though Caruth went down a lap during the first stage of the race he still advanced his position during the night. Caruth finished 25th, three spots ahead of his starting place. This wasn’t a race of attrition either. There was only one caution during the entire race outside of the two stage breaks during the event. So he didn’t advance positions simply because other trucks crashed and couldn’t finish, he had to race for position on every single lap.
During the last stage of the race, on that sole caution during green flag action, Caruth picked up a pit road penalty. It’s that type of experience that the racing community often discusses when they say “turning laps.” Caruth’s full-time circuit, the ARCA Menard’s Series, doesn’t employ competitive pit stops. It simply requires teams to have race breaks under caution, giving each team a nearly free pass to adjust the car minus any pressure. Understanding what works and what doesn’t during a live pitstop in the top three series is a valuable moment for the young driver he might appreciate later.
While Caruth finished three laps down to race winner Chandler Smith, there were only 14 trucks on the lead lap at the checkered flag. A short track race that stays green virtually the entire race can be rough on the field and Saturday night was no exception. With two truck races to his credit in his young career, Caruth has shown that he can finish the race and finish better than he started. In St. Louis he finished in 11th place after a strong rally to close the race.
It was also a great day for the culture as the No. 7 Chevrolet sported decals from Virginia State University, Winston-Salem State University and HBCU Gameday. The WSSU junior, along with his father Dr. Roger Caruth, are adamant about showcasing HBCUs within the space.
With more experience and more laps in the future for Rajah Caruth, the best is yet to come.