On Wednesday, Spire Motorsports announced that Rajah Caruth would be racing full-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2024 in the #71 truck. This allows Caruth to breathe a sigh of relief as he was left without a ride following GMS Racing shutting down. With this major move, could this be his breakout season?
- Rajah Caruth’s 2023 season was marked by a rocky start and a strong finish. He had only one top-10 in the first 16 races, but, he recorded 3 top-10s in the final 7 races. He also led his first lap in the Truck Series at Nashville in the summer.
- Caruth will be sponsored by HendrickCars.com for 10 races, and he competed in one Xfinity Series race for Hendrick Motorsports in 2023. His signing with Spire alongside the sponsorship gives him connections to two potential Cup Series teams, Spire Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports.
- Fans are excited to see Caruth get this opportunity at Spire Motorsports. Many feel that Spire will contend for wins and the Championship, so, expectations are high.
Just How Good Will His Equipment Be?
Given that GMS, Caruth’s former team, had Grant Enfinger in the Championship 4 and on the cusp of a Championship in 2023, Caruth can’t really upgrade his equipment. The best thing he can do is make a lateral move, and Spire can be that move.
While this is Spire Motorsport’s first full-time season in the Truck Series, they already have two wins under their belt. These triumphs came with William Byron at Martinsville in 2022 and Kyle Larson at North Wilkesboro in 2023.
Without a full season on their resume, it’s impossible to definitively say that Spire will immediately be one of the top teams on the grid, but they have potential. They also acquired some interesting equipment during the off-season.
Spire’s Truck Series program was born out of the buyout of Kyle Busch Motorsports. KBM had an incredible pedigree in the Truck Series with 100 victories and 2 Championships. However, the team was a bit off in 2023.
They did win 2 races, but, both of those were with Kyle Busch behind the wheel. Chase Purdy, the lone full-time driver for the team, missed the Playoffs. How much of that was equipment, and how much of that was driver talent?
The point is that Spire is ultimately an unknown for 2024. They have potential, but, can they mold that into consistent performance? Rajah Caruth and the other drivers will take the lion’s share of that responsibility.
What Should Caruth’s Expectations Be in 2024?
Overall, 4 top-10s in 23 races and missing the Playoffs while your teammate is competing in the Championship 4 is a disappointing body of work. There’s no other way to slice it, but, that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for logical optimism.
We already mentioned how Caruth finished the 2023 season, 3 top-10s in the final 7 races with no finish worse than 14th. He had only 1 top-10 in the first 16 races with an average finish of 21.7. As the season progressed, he got better.
Not to mention that he was racing for the lead at Nashville in the summer before a mechanical failure dashed those hopes. He came home 32nd in that race, 31 laps down.
If he keeps up the trend of what he did at the end of 2023 for a full season, Caruth would finish with roughly 10 top-10s with an average finish of 10.1. He would be ranked tied for 10th in the series in top-10s and 3rd in the series in average finish.
His average of 28.8 points per race over that 7 race stretch would net him around 462 points if he raced that way throughout the regular season. This would have been good enough to point his way into the Playoffs in 2023.
At his best, Caruth was performing as a Playoff-caliber driver. Maybe he can take that next step forward and record a few top-5s, maybe nab a pole, or possibly even score his first career win. At the very least, making the Playoffs should be his goal because that’s how good he was when driving at his best.
Could this be Rajah Caruth’s breakout year? It absolutely can based on his equipment and his performance at the end of 2023. The question is, can he do it over the course of the entire season?