Caruth Scores Career-Best Finish as Chaos Reigns

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A massive wreck in overtime at Daytona Int’l Speedway left Rajah Caruth with a runner-up finish when the dust settled in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener.

Rajah caruth earned his best career nascar craftsman truck series finish at daytona international speedway.
Rajah Caruth (71). (Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires)

Caruth’s No. 71 Chevrolet Silverado RST was lined up on the outside at a restart with nine laps to go. A push from his Spire Motorsports teammate Corey LaJoie sent him into the lead entering the backstretch. That lead didn’t last as Rev Racing’s Nick Sanchez took the top spot before Turn 3. An accident mid-pack pushed the Fresh From Florida 250 into overtime.

Both Caruth and LaJoie repeated the maneuver to take the lead in overtime only for Sanchez and Corey Heim to retake the top two spots. After taking the white flag, LaJoie attempted to draft with the Washington, D.C. native pushed outside as the truck tightened up. At the same time LaJoie bumped Caruth, sending him up into Taylor Gray unleashing a melee that sent the TRICON Garage driver flipping on the backstretch.

With the field frozen at the time of caution, Caruth was credited with second place, his best career finish. In the end, it wasn’t what mattered to the NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum.

“We didn’t any stage points, but really good night for Nick and everybody at Spire Motorsports,” Caruth said. “Hate to see trucks tore up like that on the backstretch. I just got a bad push, and you already are getting tight off the corner like that. So hated to see that. Thank you to Hendrick Automotive,, everybody at Spire and Team Chevy. They’re only reason I got a ride this year and hopefully I can make it count.” 

Caruth and LaJoie getting lined up on the final restarts wasn’t planned out. While the NASCAR Cup Series driver did a great job bump-drafting, there was one push that sent Caruth out of shape. The 21-year-old was also tight exiting the corner and wanted to see the replay of the crash.

“No, I mean, you never plan that stuff out,” Caruth admitted. “Luckily, we got connected and he was doing a great job pushing. I just got to look at the replay. I felt like I was jacked up and I was already tight as well off the corner. And like I said, hate seeing trucks get thrown up like that on the back.” 

Rajah caruth earned his best career nascar craftsman truck series finish at daytona international speedway.
Rajah Caruth. (Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires)

Post-race Caruth’s mentor, Bubba Wallace stopped to chat about the final lap. While the conversation appeared heated at first, the 23XI Racing driver was critiquing the moves that the up-and-coming driver did and didn’t make. The duo ended the conversation with a handshake and a hug.

It’s not the first time that Wallace has offered words of advice and wisdom post-race to Caruth. The Cup Series driver stopped to chat with him following the then-GMS Racing driver’s first career top-10 finish at Darlington Raceway.

“We were just talking about last lap,” Caruth explained. “You know what I did and didn’t do and kind of how he saw it. I mean, he’s been there from the start for my whole career. It’s been awesome to have him on my side the whole way.

“I definitely thought about could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, but definitely after a long winter and then you work hard, and a lot of different things happen. To come home with the top-five to start the year is pretty good. I couldn’t really think too much about (having LaJoie behind me). I just needed to execute. That’s it.”

Caruth picked up minor damage in the first caution of the race. A 13-truck wreck left four trucks out of the race. Ty Dillon’s

Next for Caruth is the FR8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, February 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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