The name Rajah Caruth is one that NASCAR fans will likely hear more of in the coming years, but he wanted to get a headstart by running select Xfinity Series races for Alpha Prime Racing in 2022.
“I want to perform well, but my goal was to make a name for myself, get out here and make it to the end of races and learn,” Caruth told Jayski.com. “It’s helped me so far and it’s going to continue to help me. I’ve just got to keep trying.”
Caruth is a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. Growing up an avid race fan, at one point calling himself a “NASCAR nerd” who collected encyclopedias, the Washington, D.C. native didn’t find his calling until later in life. Oh yeah, he turned 20 in June.
His family doesn’t come from money. So he got his start in motorsports on iRacing. That’s where he was discovered by the Drive for Diversity program and earned his shot to race legends cars.
This year, Caruth’s primary focus was chasing an ARCA Menards Series championship for Rev Racing. And though he led the standings up until the 13th race of the season at Watkins Glen International, he dropped to third in the championship battle, behind teammate – and champion – Nick Sanchez.
“I think I’ve had everything happen to me this year but win,” Caruth said. “It’s been pretty testing.”
Rounding out the top five in the series’ finale at Toledo Speedway last weekend, Caruth finished the year with eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. But he also suffered a DNF in three of the final five events.
Though he didn’t win a race, the feeling of potentially getting the glory in Victory Lane is motivating.
“It’s what drives me every day,” Caruth stated. “It’s hard to stay confident in myself throughout it all. But the Chevy guys have taught me to omit what you want the outcome to be and potential results because, at the end of the day, it’s out of your control.”
Being among the Chevrolet drivers has guided Caruth with some additional opportunities. In April, he made his Xfinity Series debut at Richmond Raceway for Alpha Prime. Two months later at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the prospect made his Camping World Truck Series debut with Spire Motorsports, finishing 11th.
Having a highly-touted young driver such as Caruth has helped draw attention to Alpha Prime. At Dover Motor Speedway, the team had its first onboard camera.
“Rajah was the priority for us when we started this venture with Alpha Prime Racing,” Tommy Joe Martins, co-owner of Alpha Prime, said. “There were three drivers at the press conference, and two of them were old, washed-up guys in me and Caesar [Bacarella] that are doing this now. We had one guy up there that we knew was going to be a star for a long time, and that’s Rajah.
“Every time he’s in one of our racecars, we’re excited. We want him to be in the racecar more for us. He’s probably going to grow beyond us, but it’s been a ton of fun having him and we’re looking forward to these last three races.”
The first four Xfinity races for Caruth have been a vast learning experience. The transition has been “1,000% in every way possible” and was highlighted by qualifying 15th at Dover. Thus far, he has an average finish of 31.3 with two DNFs.
In his third start at Pocono Raceway, Caruth lasted just one lap after an incident with Alex Labbe. That was tough to grasp. He leaned on some of his mentors – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick – for advice.
That didn’t make getting over the wreck any easier and drained his confidence.
“Naturally, I’m really hard on myself,” Caruth said, “So that was a difficult situation.”
As a team owner, Martins was frustrated, too. But he has first-hand experience of the way Caruth felt on that afternoon. There’s nothing he could do to fix the situation, though he knows the driver won’t make the same mistake twice.
“It cost us money, it cost us points, it was a bummer,” Martins said. “But in the end, Rajah is better for it because he made that mistake. I told him you’ve got to own it. It’s embarrassing, and that’s why you won’t do it again.”
Prior to jumping back into the car at Kansas Speedway, seven weeks after the Pocono incident, Caruth still felt trepidation. He wasn’t sure how he’d feel until he strapped into the car. He finished in 25th.
Beginning this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Caruth will compete in three of the final four races of the Xfinity season. For the first time, he will run in consecutive Xfinity races to close out the year at Martinsville Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.
“I just hope to run all the laps and minimize the mistakes and achieve the full potential of the racecar and myself,” Caruth said. “Whether that’s running 25th, 12th or even better. My goal is just to make it to the end of the races.”
Of the three tracks, Caruth is most excited about Martinsville. He’s completed the most laps around there, including running the Valley Star 300 last month. He also has two ARCA West starts at Phoenix.
First up, though, is Las Vegas, which is a small concern.
“For Vegas, that’s going to be, eh, because I haven’t been on the race track before,” Caruth stated. “Everywhere else I’ve been to, so I won’t be getting reacclimated with the race track. I’ll know where all my marks were previously.”
For 2023, Caruth hopes to be in the Truck Series full time. But he’s been letting his father, Roger, handle those discussions.