MOORESVILLE, N.C. – One of the last pieces of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ silly-season puzzle fell into place Wednesday morning, courtesy of Spire Motorsports and Rajah Caruth.
Caruth will wheel a third full-time entry for Spire’s Truck Series operation, which has emerged from the purchase of Kyle Busch Motorsports last summer.
The 21-year-old from Washington, D.C., takes the reins of the No. 71 Chevrolet Silverado, with HendrickCars.com backing in 10 races, starting with the season opening Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway on Feb. 16.
After uncertainty surrounding his future clouded the winter months following the shutdown of GMS Racing – his previous home – Caruth noted his new team gives him just as strong a chance to succeed as he had a year ago. The sophomore driver is embarking on his second full season in the Truck Series.
“I’m usually a pretty stoic guy, emotionally, but it’s hard not to tear up a little bit thinking about this opportunity,” said Caruth. “There was a lot of uncertainty over the winter, in almost every sense of the word. I just feel really blessed to be able to drive for Spire Motorsports and to be able to have Chad (Walter) come with me. I’m flattered to have the support of HendrickCars.com and, of course, Mr. H and the whole Hendrick family.
“It’s a dream to be here, and to have a full season and to have a place where I can grow is pretty special. I’m ready to get back to work and continue what we’ve done over the last few months,” Caruth added. “Huge thanks to Spire, Chevrolet, General Motors, and everyone who supports me and my family for making this happen. I can’t wait for Daytona, and hopefully, I can make everybody proud.”
Last year, Caruth notched four top-10 finishes as part of his rookie Truck Series campaign, including a season-best mark of sixth at both Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
He joins a Truck Series lineup at Spire that includes full-time teammate Chase Purdy, as well as two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and all-time Truck Series wins leader Kyle Busch for five races in a third entry that will feature various faces behind the wheel through the year.
Bringing Caruth into the fold is something team co-owner Jeff Dickerson believes positions Spire Motorsports for long-term success, in addition to achieving strong results this season.
“We’ve talked about seminal moments for Spire Motorsports in the past, and I think this is another one of those moments,” said Dickerson. “Rajah Caruth is an exceptional young man. He’s a very talented driver with a bright future. He’s obviously young in his career but he’s mature beyond his years.
“You hear people talk about an ‘it’ factor and when you talk to him and get to know him, it’s pretty obvious he has ‘it.’”
A major point of stability will be the return of veteran Chad Walter as Caruth’s crew chief. The pair worked together at GMS, and Walter is eager to return atop the pit box for the driver he said “changed my life, personally” last season.
“I don’t know of anyone else who I’d want to work harder for, or have wanted to work harder for, over the last 15 years of my career. He’s so uplifting in so many ways,” Walter explained. “He works hard, and he wants to get better. I’ve worked with some really good drivers in my past, but Rajah really stands out. He goes about things the right way and his passion for this has really made an impact on me.
“I jumped at the opportunity to work with him again,” continued Walter. “It’s kind of a crazy business we work in but when I found out that this could come to fruition – that we could do this again together – there was no other option for me.”
The HendrickCars.com sponsorship continues a link between Caruth and Hendrick Motorsports, which developed last season into an Xfinity Series drive during NASCAR Championship Weekend at Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway in November behind the wheel of the No. 17 Chevrolet for the Hendrick team.
Caruth finished 14th in that race for Hall of Fame owner Rick Hendrick, a week after tying his Xfinity Series-best of 12th at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway to cap a part-time schedule with Alpha Prime Racing.
“HendrickCars.com is the digital home for everything our company offers, including vehicles, career opportunities, service locations, and more,” said Gary Davis, executive vice president for Hendrick Automotive Group. “We are thrilled for Rajah to get this opportunity. He’s a bright and talented individual who will represent HendrickCars.com very well.”
“We’re exceptionally fortunate to be able to bring Rajah into the mix and pair him with Chad Walter,” added Dickerson. “Those guys worked together last season, so to be able to keep them together should go a long way in terms of chemistry and being competitive. Outside of that, this is just a good situation for everyone. It’s as simple as that.”
Caruth and Spire Motorsports will kick off their pursuit of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship Feb. 16 during the Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Race coverage airs at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Great NEWS! We have taken the green flag and have officially launched our Race Face Digital Kickstarter crowdfunding. To make your pledge click on the button below. Pledges start at $10.