Only a handful of African-American drivers have attempted the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 throughout the event’s history.
Even fewer have successfully qualified.
Driver for Diversity member Rajah Caruth is not focused on the previous triumphs and failures of other African-American drivers in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and is eager to make his debut appearance in a few short weeks.
Caruth understands the challenges of simply being one of the 40 starters but believes that a full year of racing around the country has thoroughly prepared him for the prestigious event.
“I know what its like to race against guys like Josh Berry and Peyton Sellers,” Caruth said. “It’s going to be exciting to race against the best of the best in the country and this will allow us to assess the quality of our equipment. Even if we don’t make the race, having that experience is really going to be helpful.”
Caruth knew that his second season with Driver for Diversity was going to be crucial towards his overall growth.
Along with contesting a full ARCA Menards Series East campaign, Rev Racing also had Caruth continue his busy Late Model Stock schedule on the East Coast with fellow Drive for Diversity members Isabella Robusto, Lavar Scott and Regina Sirvent as teammates.
Caruth has excelled as the senior member of Rev Racing’s Late Model Stock program. He became the first African-American driver since Chris Bristol to win at Hickory Motor Speedway back in April before adding another victory at Tri-County Motor Speedway one month later.
The three Late Model Stock victories in 2021 have provided validation for Caruth, who initially doubted his ability to perform as a driver when he transitioned from iRacing in 2019.
While Caruth admitted there are several concepts about driving full-bodied stock cars he is still figuring out, he credited Rev Racing for providing him the confidence he needed to be competitive on any given weekend.
“This season has been all about learning what it takes to be successful,” Caruth said. “A big part of that is how you manage your time at and away from the race track. Everything is still hard to assess because the season is still going on but I feel like I’ve developed a lot as a driver and a young man.”
Martinsville Speedway will serve as the biggest test of Caruth’s brief Late Model Stock career to date.
The large entry lists and chaotic nature of the preliminaries have caused many talented drivers to miss the 300-lap feature over its long history, ranging from former winners in Mike Looney and Tommy Lemons Jr. to current NASCAR Cup Series drivers such as Matt DiBenedetto and Bubba Wallace.
Caruth and his Rev Racing crew have been working extensively on his No. 6 Sunoco Chevrolet ahead of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300. He believes the improvements on the car will put him in a great position to surpass the previous best finish set by an African-American in the event, which was a sixth-place run by Marc Davis in 2006.
“We’re decking our car out,” Caruth said. “We’ve actually been tearing the car apart. I took the nose off [last week] along with the radiator and I’ve been doing a bunch of other cool stuff as well. We want to make this car as strong as we can come Sept. 25.”
Preparing for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 has only been a small part of an eventful month for Caruth.
Alpha Prime Racing, a new team formed by Tommy Joe Martins and Caesar Bacarella, tabbed Caruth to run a partial Xfinity Series schedule in 2022 that he will balance out with a full-time ARCA Menards Series season.
Certainty surrounding his 2022 plans has only served as more motivation for Caruth heading into the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and South Carolina 400 at Florence Motor Speedway. He knows that strong performances in both events could be beneficial towards charting his path in NASCAR’s top divisions.
“Doing well at Martinsville and Florence would mean so much to me on a personal level,” Caruth said. “That would assert to me that I have what it takes to continue and it would also look good to teams like Hendrick, RCR or Kaulig so I could possibly drive one of their cars in the future.”
Caruth wants to follow in the footsteps of other African-American drivers like Wendell Scott, Bill Lester and Bubba Wallace so he can serve as an inspiration to others that want to start their own NASCAR careers.
Accomplishing that goal for Caruth involves putting in the necessary focus for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 so he can outrun all of the seasoned veterans and score the biggest victory of his career.