NASCAR Xfinity Series
Rubbin' is Racing, Mostly, for Ty Gibbs after Richmond Win
Apr 2, 2022
It was largely mission accomplished for Rajah Caruth in his Xfinity Series debut at Richmond Raceway even if he has already started to pick it apart.
Caruth started 22nd and finished 24th in a car that has largely run around 20th this season across starts featuring team co-owner Tommy Joe Martins, Ryan Ellis and Sage Karam behind the wheel.
"I learned a lot," Caruth said. "Track position is really important. Longer pace, I felt really sold. Fire off, not so good. It was just a lack of grip, but we would catch up by lap 30 into a run. I thought we needed a caution to get on the other side of the lucky dog, but 24th isn't bad.
"But definitely wanted better, learned a lot today, and can't wait to go to Dover with these guys."
Martins saw everything he wanted to from a 19-year-old making his series debut with only a dozen ARCA starts and Late Model Stock starts to his name. Rev Racing owner Max Siegel and Cup Series contender Bubba Wallace also debriefed with Caruth after the race.
Caruth is most known for his iRacing exploits but he also has Legend car experience as well.
"We ran a race that we expected," Martins said. "We had a top-20 type of car. Maybe if we had caught a break a little better than that. But we didn’t expect him to come out and go for the win today. We just kind of wanted him to knock this out.
"It’s his first race. Lot of pressure. Lot of eyes on him. He did a great job qualifying, a great job in the race and brought home a top 25 finish."
The most notable thing that happened to Caruth came within the first 55 laps when leader John Hunter Nemechek struggled to get around the Alpha Prime Racing No. 44. But Caruth didn’t do anything wrong. He committed to the high side and kept the leader pinched low.
It was a textbook defensive line and the two drivers didn’t touch once. For a driver just working on experience, racing the leader side-by-side had a tremendous amount of value.
"I’ll be curious to know what it was like from his standpoint, because I know it was probably annoying to have to deal with a lap car," Caruth said. "But track position and being on the lead lap is so important for this level. I’m not sure I would do anything different and I learned a lot today."
The first person to greet Caruth upon climbing out of the car was Martins, but the driver couldn’t remember what he said.
"My mind is going fast right now," Caruth said. "It was just about how the race went."
He was excited to be at this level, but also disappointed because he wanted more. He isn’t sure if he gained respect from his peers, but he certainly hoped so. There were times he roughed up drivers around him, but it’s the kind of aggression a driver has to execute at this level.
"I only ran into the back of someone if I felt like they were holding me up or returning the favor," Caruth said. "I ran my line and kept the car clean. Right now, I just wish we had caught a caution and a lucky dog."