NASCAR hits diversity milestone with two Black drivers in Saturday’s race in Richmond – The Daily Progress

March 31, 2022 by No Comments

For the first time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series history and the first time in any series in more than two decades, two Black drivers will share the track on Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

Rajah Caruth and Jesse Iwuji are set to compete together in the division’s ToyotaCare 250. The last time it happened? Willy T. Ribbs and Bill Lester raced each other in the 2001 Camping World Truck Series.

“Representation is so important,” said Caruth, who will make his first start in NASCAR’s top minor-league circuit. “It’s especially important in racing for us minorities, just because, yes, we’ve got a lot of us behind the scenes … but the faces of the sport are the drivers, and so to have representation in that avenue, it’s extremely important.

“Like, [with] how important [Cup Series driver] Bubba Wallace and [Formula 1 champion] Lewis [Hamilton] were to me as I grew up, seeing them do it made me believe that I could and chase my passion. So to not only be in the field myself, but to share it with Jesse, along with 38 other guys, it’s important and I know the responsibility that brings, and I welcome it.”

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Rajah Caruth is making his Xfinity Series debut in the ToyotaCare 250.

The 19-year-old has been gaining experience in the ARCA Menards Series, as well as Legend cars and late models. Currently full-time as a rookie with Rev Racing in ARCA, Caruth’s first career win came in an Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series late model at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Caruth rolled into victory lane three more times in the division in 2021.

“It helped me a lot, I think, develop as a driver, but helped me mentally too,” Caruth said. “It’s been way too long [since a win]. Hopefully I get some more in that column soon.”

Richmond is essentially a home track for Caruth, who grew up in Washington, D.C., making his debut mean even more.

“That’s the first race I went to, so it definitely pulls on the heartstrings a little bit,” Caruth said. “My mom sent me some pictures the other day, and I was taken aback by them because that wasn’t even 10 years ago — I was 12. It’s just crazy to think about. Obviously, we’ve got a long ways to go, but to take the first step at Richmond is pretty surreal.”

That first step comes in Alpha Prime’s No. 44 Chevrolet Camaro, which ran under the Martins Motorsports banner until the start of the 2022 season. It’s co-owned by Tommy Joe Martins, a journeyman in NASCAR for more than a decade, who drove the No. 44 to the front in the early part of last fall’s Xfinity race at Richmond and came inches from winning the opening stage.

Eager for experience and with the ARCA schedule spread out, Caruth kept looking for opportunities.

“Nothing beats seat time,” he said.

Virginia State University’s blue, orange and white livery will grace the No. 44 at Richmond, adding to a long line of Virginia colleges …….



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