Race Weekend Central

Rajah Caruth Ushers In Spire’s New Era with Career Day at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — While a win did not come to fruition for Rajah Caruth, he still made a strong impression in his return to Spire Motorsports on Friday night (Feb. 16).

Caruth managed to finish a career-best second in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. He was only bested by Nick Sanchez, whose Rev Racing team resides in-house at Spire. The run tops Caruth’s previous career best of sixth, which he achieved twice in 2023.

“After a long winter, you work hard and a lot of different things happen,” Caruth said. “So to come home with a top five to start the year is pretty good.”

See also
Nick Sanchez Survives at Daytona for 1st Career Truck Win

Caruth spent most of the final stage up front, mostly with the help of Spire teammate Corey Lajoie. The NASCAR Cup Series regular pushed him out to the lead on almost every restart late in the race, including the final one in overtime.

Both Caruth and Lajoie were in contention for the win on the last lap, running only behind Sanchez and Taylor Gray. But that’s when Caruth made a mistake. His No. 71 Chevrolet bumped into Jack Wood, sparking a massive last-lap crash that saw Gray get turned over in the middle of the main pack.

While Lajoie was caught up in the accident, Caruth avoided any significant damage. The caution came out immediately, securing his runner-up result and leaving a number of angry drivers in his wake.

“I like Rajah a lot,” said Taylor Gray, one of several drivers wiped out by the move, “But I just don’t know what he was doing.”

“I gotta look at the replay,” countered Caruth. “I felt like I was already jacked up, and I was already tight as well off the corner.

“Hate seeing trucks get torn up like that on the backstretch.”

Nevertheless, the night ended very positively for the second-year Truck Series driver, earning the praise of his father Roger, who was in attendance for his son’s big finish.

“I’m extremely proud (of Rajah),” Roger Caruth told Frontstretch. “Daytona is a tough track. You just have to maintain and be there at the end, and he was.”

Roger has coached Rajah on being respectful on and off the racetrack. When it comes to pure driver talent, however, Roger attributes it all to his son.

“It’s all him. I have no input in that area at all,” Roger said with a smile. “Just here as a fan, as a supporter and just trying to usher him through as best as we can.”

Rajah, however, credits another person in his life who has helped him since transitioning to stock cars from iRacing: Bubba Wallace.

Wallace was with the No. 71 team talking to Caruth prior to the green flag. Once the checkered flag flew, he was one of the first people to come over and congratulate him.

“He’s [Wallace] been there from the start, so it’s nice to have him on my side the whole way,” Rajah said.

And now, he’s welcomed the support of a strong organization. With its spending spree in 2023, it’s clear a new era has arrived at Spire Motorsports. The team bought an additional charter to expand to three full-time Cup Series cars, then bought the assets of Kyle Busch Motorsports last summer to expand to three full-time trucks (four including the satellite team of Sanchez).

Caruth, meanwhile, was one of three drivers left scrambling to find a ride after GMS Racing shut down at the conclusion of 2023. Caruth had touted that he had one lined up almost all offseason; however, the deal with Spire was not announced until just nine days before Daytona.

What followed was a full-circle moment, as this start marked Caruth’s return to the team he made his first four Truck starts with back in 2022. So far, the partnership is off to a great start for both sides.

“(Spire is) the only reason I got a ride this year, and hopefully, I can make it count,” Caruth said.

Just one race in, he sure has.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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4 Comments
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Shayne

Rajah wrecked the field. He should be ashamed of his driving, not celebrated.These children will eventually kill someone. Nice highlight reels, huh.

WD

Truck series use to be the one to watch yrs back when there was a more vetran presence for mentorship, now its just too aggressive and dissapointing to watch trucks get torn up

DoninAjax

Caruth pulled a Hamlin. He started a wreck that took out the main contenders and scooted away. I guess the field got Hamlined and I can’t wait for Hamlin to do it in the 500 and then say he deserved to win.

In the finishing order I saw he finished third!

Echo

I think a satellite team should be paid a bounty to make Hamlin miserable every week.

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