Today, Spire Motorsports announced it will field the No. 71 Chevrolet Silverado in a full-time NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series (NCTS) effort in 2024 and has named rising star Rajah Caruth as the driver.
HendrickCars.com will be showcased as the team‘s primary sponsor for 10 races beginning with the season-opening Fresh from Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Veteran crew chief Chad Walter will call the team‘s effort from atop the pit box.
“We‘ve talked about seminal moments for Spire Motorsports in the past, and I think this is another one of those moments,” said Spire Motorsports co-owner Jeff 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.‘ We‘re exceptionally fortunate to be able to bring Rajah into the mix and pair him with Chad Walter. 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 raced full time in the NCTS in 2023, earning four top-10 finishes and coming home 16th in the division‘s season-ending point standings. He is an alumnus of NASCAR‘s Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program and currently a senior at Winston-Salem (N.C.) State University.
“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, 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.”
The 21-year-old Washington D.C. native also raced part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series over the past two seasons and tied his career/series best 12th-place finish last fall at Martinsville Speedway. Caruth, was named the 2021 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award recipient in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, an award based on a driver‘s final Weekly Series national standing and on-track performance, sportsmanship and community service.
“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. 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, Hopefully, I can make everybody proud.”
Walter has over two decades of experience and began his career with Hendrick Motorsports in 1996. The Albion, New York native has also served in engineering and crew chief roles for some the NASCAR‘s most distinguished teams including Dale Earnhardt Inc., Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Some of his most notable accomplishments include a pair of Daytona 500 victories (2001 & 2003) with Michael Waltrip, along with Cup Series wins with Steve Park and Terry Labonte.
He comes to Spire Motorsports with Caruth after spending last season in the same role with GMS Racing.
“Personally, that kid, Rajah, has changed my life,” commented Walter. “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. 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. 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 Fresh from Florida 250 from Daytona International Speedway will be televised live on FS1 Friday, February 16, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The first of 23 NCTS races on the 2024 schedule will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
— Spire Motorsports —