Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Everyone Penalized as Rajah Caruth Makes History at Vegas

In A Nutshell

Rajah Caruth made history at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, becoming the third African-American to win a NASCAR premier series race.

Caruth won the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 on Friday night (March 1), earning his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory. He did so from the pole, of which he also earned his first.

See also
Rajah Caruth Breaks Through For 1st Career Truck Victory at Vegas

Caruth passed Taylor Gray during the final pit stop cycle halfway through the final stage, and held off a hard-charging Tyler Ankrum to take his first win in his third race with Spire Motorsports.

Ankrum finished second, continuing his great start to the season. He was followed by Corey Heim, who came from a 25th-place starting position to earn his third straight top three finish. Gray finished fourth, sandwiched between TRICON Garage teammates Heim and Christopher Bell, who finished fifth.

The Top Truckers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Winner, Polesitter: Rajah Caruth
Stage One and Two Winner, Most Laps Led (40 of 134): Ty Majeski
Rookie of the Race: Conner Jones

Top Storylines of the Race

  • The race only saw two cautions for cause. One came on lap 3 when Bayley Currey spun and hit the wall in an attempt to pass Chase Purdy. Meanwhile on lap 68, immediately after the restart to begin the final stage, Dean Thompson got loose and smacked the outside wall off of turn 4. Currey finished 28th, five laps down, while Thompson finished 30th, nine laps down.
  • With the race relatively clean (for the Truck Series, that’s an absolute win), only one truck failed to finish the race – Timmy Hill‘s self-owned No. 56 went behind the wall after 75 laps with a hub failure in the left front tire.
  • Caruth joins Bubba Wallace and Wendell Scott as the only African-American drivers to win a race in NASCAR history. However, Caruth and Wallace are the only African-American drivers to win a race in the Truck Series.
  • Caruth’s win also extends Chevrolet’s winning streak across NASCAR’s premier series, as it still hasn’t lost a race in 2024, and has won nine of the last 10 races dating back to Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway (Cole Custer won the Xfinity Series race and championship in a Ford, the only non-Chevy victory).
  • Additionally, Spire has not lost a truck race in 2024. Its satellite team, Rev Racing, won the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway at Daytona with Nick Sanchez, while Kyle Busch brought home Spire’s first win of 2024 at Atlanta Motor Speedway before Caruth’s triumph at Vegas.
  • Driving the No. 71, Caruth also scored the first victory for the number since Donny Lia won his only career race at the now-defunct Mansfield Motorsports Park way back in 2008.

The Winning Move

Ty Majeski was on pace to have a dominant night, sweeping the stages and leading the most laps at 40. His two closest competitors were Caruth and Busch. However, the field had to make one last pit stop in the final stage to make it to the finish. As there was a lack of cautions, it came down to a green flag pit stop.

Unfortunately, several drivers – and I mean several – incurred penalties in a brutal pit cycle.

Including Majeski and Busch.

It started when Majeski was tagged for speeding along with Sanchez. Then Busch was penalized for a safety violation. Following that, Tanner Gray was hit with a commitment line violation while Layne Riggs was also caught speeding.

When all the pass through penalties were finished and the pit cycle finished up, it was a battle between Caruth and Taylor Gray for the lead, which Caruth ended up winning. He officially took the lead with 20 laps to go, when Mason Massey headed for the pits to officially close the pit cycle.

See also
Rejuvenated Tyler Ankrum Gets Vegas Runner-up, Leads Points

Despite opening up his lead to nearly two seconds, Ankrum made quick work of Gray for second and ran down Caruth in a hurry, closing the gap to under a second coming to the checkered flag.

Caruth held on, however, to make history in Sin City.

Championship Rundown

Caruth now joins Sanchez as the only drivers locked into the Playoffs on wins with 13 races yet to be contested. Meanwhile, Ankrum leads the points for the second straight week, though Majeski’s stage wins allow him to close the gap on the No. 18 from 10 points to just five.

Rookie Report

Conner Jones took advantage of Riggs’ pit road penalty to finish atop the rookies. His 14th-place finish earns him Rookie of the Race. He will compete in just 13 races, but will attempt to compete for Rookie of the Year honors despite the part-time schedule. He hopes to repeat what Heim did in 2022 – Heim only ran 16 of 23 races, yet still won ROTY.

No. 38 – Layne Riggs (22nd)
No. 45 – Connor Mosack (19th)
No. 46 – Thad Moffitt (25th)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (14th)

One Big Takeaway From This Race

With Daytona and Atlanta classified as drafting tracks, a lot of drivers, teams, fans and media consider the first intermediate track – in this case, Las Vegas – to be the true start of the season. Once the intermediates and short tracks hit, the cream rises to the top, and usually we get a good idea of who could be contenders throughout the season.

So let’s talk about the fact that there are several drivers on their way to have breakthrough seasons at this rate.

First, let’s start with Caruth. He had back-to-back top 10 finishes to begin the season before his Vegas triumph. Last season, he only managed four top-10 finishes and led just one lap. He has now led 39 laps this season, along with scoring career pole number one and career win number one, and we’re just three races into the season.

Next, Taylor Gray has seen a lot of time up at the front, even though he hasn’t paced the field as much as he would have hoped. Gray was running second at Daytona before he was sent flipping in a last-lap pileup.

But at Atlanta and Vegas he has earned back-to-back fourth-place finishes. Despite just leading four laps in those races, he’s already led more laps in 2024 than in his entire combined Truck Series career (three). In his first official full-time season (he missed the first three races of 2023 due to age restrictions), Gray could certainly find himself in Victory Lane soon.

See also
Truckin' Thursdays: Is Tyler Ankrum Headed For A Career Revival?

Finally, Ankrum has already had a miraculous turnaround in his three-race stretch with new team McAnally-Hilgemann Racing. He won stage 2 at Daytona and led the most laps at Atlanta before securing his runner-up at Vegas. Ankrum currently leads the point standings for the second straight race – the first time he has led the points.

After a less-than-stellar career up this point, highlighted by one Truck Series victory in 2019 and one ARCA Menards Series victory in 2023, Ankrum is also on the verge of a breakout year.

I’d also keep an eye on Bret Holmes. Holmes started the year with a fourth-place finish and has backed that up with 11th- and 12th-place finishes at Atlanta and Vegas, respectively. He currently sits an impressive eighth in the standings. After backing out of the 2023 season for the final two races to reset for 2024, Holmes and his family-owned team have started the season quietly hot for their standards.

Talkin’ Truckers

Caruth (winner):

Ankrum (second):

Heim (third):

Taylor Gray (fourth):

BONUS: Wallace, who has served as a mentor to Caruth, was happy for his historic win:

Paint Scheme of the Race

When you come to Las Vegas, you’d best expect South Point Hotel and Casino to be aboard at least one car or truck for the weekend.

This time, it was aboard the No. 46 of Moffitt.

Moffitt, the grandson of Richard Petty, has carried the Petty blue paint throughout most of his racing career. However the classic black and gold of South Point paint schemes, along with the streaks of red, made for a great looking truck under the lights.

Coincidentally, South Point is also a family affair in NASCAR, as the casino is owned by Michael Gaughan and sponsored his son Brendan Gaughan for most of his NASCAR career.

Next Stop

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will take a week off to regroup before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway. For the first time since 2021, the Truck Series will take the green flag for the Bristol spring race on the original concrete, as the last two spring races at Bristol took place on dirt. Joey Logano won the dirt race last season.

The Weather Guard Truck Race will take place on Saturday, March 16. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

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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