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Rajah Caruth becomes the third Black driver to win a NASCAR national series race

Rajah Caruth became the third Black driver in NASCAR history to win a national series race on Friday night in Las Vegas.

The 21-year-old driver is from Washington, D.C., and learned to race online through the iRacing simulator platform. He joins Wendell Scott, who in 1963 became the first Black driver to win a race, and Bubba Wallace as the only Black drivers who have won a series race.

“There were a lot of days, especially in high school, that I did not think I could get here,” Caruth said in his post-race news conference. “I can’t tell you how many times I was at internship in my junior year working at (George Washington University) — like their basketball court, whatever, in the box office just working on my website — when I was just iRacing.”

Rajah Caruth (71) celebrates his victory of the Victorias Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday night.
Rajah Caruth (71) celebrates his victory of the Victorias Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday night.

Caruth’s father, Roger, is a communications professor at Howard University, while his mother, Samantha, is assistant director of admissions at Sidwell Friends, a private school in the Washington, D.C., area. They were both at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday night to witness his historic win.

His parents didn’t have a motorsports background, but his father took the family, along with Caruth’s late grandfather, to his first race when he was young. The experience encouraged him to chase his racing dreams, which started from iRacing.

“Really enabled me to put in the work and chase the dreams, like I said, of living by myself in North Carolina,” Caruth said. “I can’t imagine for a mom, for a dad, to send their 18-year-old kid to a completely different culture, a completely different lifestyle, to live on his own, work at a race shop, and be in a completely different environment.”

Rajah Caruth is introduced before the Victorias Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Rajah Caruth is introduced before the Victorias Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Caruth came through NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which started 20 years ago. He is still a senior at Winston-Salem State University, where he studies motorsports management and will graduate this fall.

“Hopefully I don’t have any homework,” Caruth said. “Tell an official, I’m a little busy. Maybe I can get some extensions.”

Mar 1, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Truck Series driver Rajah Caruth (71) celebrates his victory of the Victorias Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2024; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; NASCAR Truck Series driver Rajah Caruth (71) celebrates his victory of the Victorias Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Before Friday’s race, Caruth had led just two laps in 29 career Truck Series starts before Friday night. He took his first checkered flag after starting on the pole and leading 38 of 134 laps in a rare, mostly-green Truck race.

It’s a historic moment for the sport, and there was an outpouring of support for Caruth on social media Friday night.

Wallace, who has mentored Caruth throughout his career, cheered in a video posted to his wife’s Instagram story as he watched Caruth take the checkered flag. Many drivers congratulated Caruth at the track — including Ross Chastain paying him a visit in Victory Lane — and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson and William Byron were among those who posted their support on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Feb 16, 2024; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Truck Series driver Rajah Caruth (71) and driver Jack Wood (91) collide on pit road during the Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2024; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Truck Series driver Rajah Caruth (71) and driver Jack Wood (91) collide on pit road during the Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports