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‘It’s surreal’: Caruth earns breakthrough NASCAR Truck win — PHOTOS

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rajah Caruth checked off a career milestone early Friday when he captured his first pole.

Several hours later, he accomplished an even greater career first.

Caruth led the final 21 laps, pulling away to win the Victoria’s Voice 200 Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It’s his first career NASCAR national series win in his 30th Truck Series start.

The 21-year-old from Washington, D.C., became the third Black driver to win a NASCAR national series race, joining Bubba Wallace and NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott.

“I’m just very speechless,” Caruth said. “It’s been a tough journey so far, and a lot of people have helped me get to this point. There’s been ups and downs, but this journey has been fruitful at times and testing at times.”

Caruth, driving the No. 71 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado for Spire Motorsports, led the second-most laps, 38, in a race that featured nine leaders and 20 lead changes.

“I just stayed cool,” Caruth said. “We lost track position for a little portion of the race, and we just stayed in the game. It was one step, one punch, one round at a time. My guys got me a great pit stop, and we just executed.”

Caruth and his team executed late on pit road as others — such as Las Vegas native and Spire Motorsports teammate Kyle Busch (safety violation) and Stage 1 and 2 winner Ty Majeski (speeding) — suffered pit road penalties.

Caruth assumed the lead with 21 laps to go and sped away to beat Tyler Ankrum by 0.851 seconds.

The final 62 laps were run under green flag conditions.

Corey Heim finished third, and Taylor Gray was fourth. NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell finished fifth.

Caruth raced for GMS Racing last year, but the team announced it was ending operations of its truck series team following the 2023 season. Caruth’s 2024 deal with Spire wasn’t announced until Feb. 7, just over a week before the season opener.

Spire announced on Wednesday that HendrickCars.com, owned by NASCAR Cup Series owner Rick Hendrick, would be Caruth’s sponsor for the entire season.

“It’s surreal,” Caruth said. “I can’t thank HendrickCars.com and (Rick Hendrick) for putting me in this thing all year, along with the men and women at Spire Motorsports. … I can’t thank my family enough. So many people have helped me get to this point. I can’t believe it.”

Busch finished 15th, a lap down, and led 13 laps. Majeski led a race-high 40 laps.

‘It looks crazy’

Shane van Gisbergen is in his first full-time NASCAR season. The LiUNA Xfinity Series race on Saturday will be the first 1½-mile track for the three-time Australian Supercar champion.

Paired with the whirling winds, van Gisbergen said this race is “completely different” from what he’s experienced.

“It looks crazy,” van Gisbergen said. “We went out for a walk before, and the wind — how it’s going to affect it — I’ve felt wind in race cars before but not at these speeds. With how fast the cars are going into Turn 1, that’s going to be eye-opening.”

Van Gisbergen, 34, from Auckland, New Zealand, is driving full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing. He finished third last week at Atlanta.

He won the NASCAR Cup Series Chicago Street Race last July with Trackhouse Racing, which put the wheels in motion for his move to the U.S. and the beginning of his NASCAR journey.

“My life’s gone completely 180 of what I thought it would be,” van Gisbergen said. “Even when I got the call, I thought it would be a one-race deal, and obviously it went really well. It’s more the enjoyment factor and then just wanting a new challenge.

Van Gisbergen said he recognized some familiar accents during his first time in Las Vegas with Allegiant Stadium hosting Australia’s National Rugby League on Saturday. But there is one stark difference he has noticed from his homeland.

“There’s no grass. I like grass and being on a farm and stuff,” van Gisbergen said. “I’m a long way from home. … It’s not my kind of place, but it’s nice.”

Local racer honored

Former local short track racer Dick Cobb was announced as an inductee to the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame’s 2024 class. Cobb, a native of New York who moved to Las Vegas in 1968, passed away in March 2023 at 75.

Cobb won three sportsman/late model stock car championships at Craig Road Speedway, a quarter-mile paved track in North Las Vegas that has since closed.

He won four NASCAR Super Late Model Championships at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Cobb raced with Las Vegas native and 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch.

Custer wins Xfinity pole

Cole Custer was the quickest in Xfinity qualifying Friday, with a lap time of 29.788 seconds and an average speed of 181.281 mph in his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to earn the pole for Saturday’s The LiUNA race.

It’s the third pole in eight races at LVMS for Custer. Chandler Smith will start second, and A.J. Allmendinger and Parker Retzlaff will start third and fourth, respectively. The top four qualifiers were the only drivers to run quicker than 30 seconds.

Las Vegas native Riley Herbst will start 11th.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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