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Rajah Caruth Misses Out on Possible First Win, Settles for First Top 10 at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. – When Rajah Caruth arrived in Darlington Raceway on Friday, May 12, he was in uncharted lands. Indeed, prior to the weekend, the 20-year-old had never even set foot in the 1.366-mile racetrack in his life.

Despite that, the GMS Racing driver outpaced a vast majority of the field to not only earn his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series top-10 result by finishing sixth, but also challenge for the win at one point as well.

And after a miserable result last week at Kansas Speedway, he needed a win — or at least something that feels like one.

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“I have a little rule,” Caruth’s crew chief Chad Walter told Frontstretch. “You can just sit there a flounder in negativity, but I choose tell people you’ve got until the airplane door drops when you get back home and then it’s on to the next race … It takes two people to wreck like they did at Kansas, so I don’t put it all on him.

“A top 10 is a very good thing for us… We needed it.”

Caruth shared in his crew chief’s elation.

“You need to run up front to be able to contend for wins,” Caruth said post-race. “And we did that tonight, so it’s a good step in the right direction.”

But for a vast majority Friday night’s race, it almost didn’t turn out that way.

In fact, after two stages that didn’t see the No. 24 truck earn any additional stage points, Caruth found himself as the cause of one of the races many late cautions.

On lap 115, Caruth was running behind Carson Hocevar as he approached the front of the field. However, when he reached the No. 42’s rear quarter panel, he miscalculated and turned the Niece Motorsports racer around.

Despite the trouble, Caruth found himself near the front of the field as the laps closed down – very near.

In fact, before the race’s penultimate restart, Caruth was running down the leaders William Byron and eventual winner Christian Eckes while running third.

“I really wish it went green,” Caruth said. “Because I was running them guys down on the fence in [turns] 3 and 4, and I didn’t touch it all night. I was pretty proud of that.”

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Walter saw opportunity.

“I thought we were in a really good position for the top two to take each other out and possibly steal a win,” Walter said.

Alas, during the following caution period, Caruth chose the outside lane. It was a decision he would likely regret as he was held up by Byron, who found himself spinning his tires on the restart.

“I think William [Byron] just spun [his tires],” said Caruth. “I got my shifting done, and I was kind of under the tire to make sure I didn’t buzz going from second [gear] to third. It sucks, right? Because you’re not the control car, so you’re just looking to the left and trying to go and the wheel spin is bad, but I think he buzzed [the tires] and I just was boxed in.”

Despite his best efforts to recover, Caruth ended his night in sixth.

While the result is far and away from what could have been, Caruth still earned a top-10 result – his best career finish in the Truck Series. There’s some solace in that, even if it’s not much.

“It’s just kind of what could have, should have, would have, right?” Caruth said. “But it’s great to run up front there towards the end. I try to stay under it and learn the racetrack throughout the night and just got going when it mattered and, it almost paid off.

“I wish it could have gone green to the end, but things happen.”

The result is the latest showing of growth for the young racer, and Walter knows it’s only the beginning of more success to come.

“He’s a student of the game,” Walter said. “He puts in the hours, puts in the effort, puts in the time… He’s raised right.

“I would jump in a foxhole with him.”

About the author

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Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021. Currently, he is the lead writer for the weekly Thinkin' Out Loudcolumn and one of our lead reporters. Beforehand, he wrote for IMSA shortly after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.

Follow Dalton on Twitter @PitLaneLT

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