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Rajah Caruth Starts Xfinity Series Career with Alpha Prime Racing

(Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Five years ago, Rajah Caruth was just another teenager.

He grew up in Washington and attended School Without Walls, where he played basketball, soccer and ran track. 

But, Caruth really wanted to race. He didn’t want to race people around a striped, painted oval at school. He wanted to race stock cars. 

Caruth always had a passion for racing, but he had one problem — he didn’t know anyone. 

Entering his junior year of high school, Caruth bought iRacing and began racing virtually.

“It was my only shot. I didn’t have any connections,” Caruth told The Podium Finish at Richmond Raceway. “I didn’t grow up going to the racetrack. I didn’t grow up with any real attachment besides being a fan of racing.”

Caruth balanced iRacing with his summer job and track practice. Just one year later, virtual dreams started to turn into a reality. 

He tried out for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program in 2019 and made the team. It led him to an opportunity to drive Legends cars and eventually late models in North Carolina.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Caruth graduated high school and shifted his focus toward a career in racing. 

“That first year was so difficult,” Caruth said. “Eventually, I kind of got the hang of it towards the latter half of 2020… I was kind of honestly learning to discipline to different iterations of the same thing.”

Caruth’s driving skills did not go unnoticed. He won races, gained confidence and earned an opportunity to race in the ARCA Menards Series in 2021. 

Rev Racing, a development team under Drive for Diversity, offered Caruth a 10-race deal in 2021. He competed in 10 ARCA Menards Series events, including a full-time slate in the ARCA Menards Series East. He also entered five main ARCA Menards Series events, three of which crossed over with the East schedule.

“ARCA was great last year. I learned a lot,” Caruth said. “We were able to run up front a little bit and get some good TV time. I just really wish I could have got a win.”

(Photo: Molly Gastineau | The Podium Finish)

Caruth recorded career-best finishes of third at Kenly and Salem. He only crashed in one race (Dover). After running up front for most of the race, Caruth blew a tire on Lap 74 and hit the wall. 

Shortly after Dover, Caruth received a text message from Tommy Joe Martins, who drove for his dad in the XFINITY Series. 

“I just [wanted] to reach out and text him and just tell him to keep his head up,” Martins told The Podium Finish. “I just was trying to tell him he did a great job — something to be really impressed with.”

Rodney Riessen and Martins’ father, Craig, looked to step away from an ownership role with the team, Martins Motorsports. But, Tommy Joe wanted to stay in the sport.

Around the same time, Caesar Bacarella, a part-time NASCAR driver, looked into an ownership role with a team. Tommy Joe felt teaming up with Bacarella would be perfect.

“I just felt like it would be a good partnership,” Martins said. “He’s got a lot of business savvy, a lot of understanding. He was going to be a lot more kind of hands-off with it as well, but there’s going to be a lot of control over it.

“He trusted me a lot to kind of put the team together and organize a lot of this and really just wanted to support us a whole lot.”

Together, they announced Alpha Prime Racing in August 2022. Martins would drive a part-time schedule while Bacarella would race superspeedways. 

But, they needed a cast of drivers to fill the remaining races for the 2022 schedule. Martins went no further than Caruth for the team’s first signing.

“I think Rajah was looking to add to his schedule this year,” Martins said. “The Xfinity Series is kind of what he sees as his next step. He’s looking for a team to potentially run five or six races with to just gain more experience. It’s kind of preparing for what he hopes is a full-time Xfinity ride next year.”

Caruth will race six Xfinity Series events in 2022, a slate that started Saturday at Richmond. He’ll also race at a variety of tracks, such as Dover, Pocono, Kansas, Martinsville and Phoenix.

(Photo: Ryan Daley | The Podium Finish)

“It’s important to be versatile because you can’t just go to the same type of race tracks and expect to only be good there,” Caruth said. “I learned a lot of the key lessons in racing so far through short track stuff. Now, I’ve got to learn the big tracks, so I’m gonna need to learn it and I welcome the challenge.”

Caruth finished 24th in his debut at Richmond, two laps down. Although he aimed for a top-20 finish, Martins said the first race isn’t about the final results.

“What I’m expecting you to do is get better,” Martins said on Caruth. “Let’s try to eliminate mistakes, run all the laps where you get all the experience that you can before you go to your next start.”

While Caruth will have to wait until April 30 for his next Xfinity Series start, he’ll look forward to his next ARCA start on April 23. Through two races, Caruth is second in points with finishes of 11th and fourth.

“To be second in points right now is pretty awesome,” Caruth said. “I know it’s only two races in, but Brad Parrott came along this winter and our chemistry has been great… I’m gonna give it a B+ right now.”

Although he enjoys ARCA, Caruth has his sights set on a full-time Xfinity Series ride in the future. As a two-car operation, Alpha Prime Racing hopes to field one of those entries for Caruth next season.

Martins said Caruth has an option in his contract to run full-time in 2023.

“We want Rajah to be full-time with us next year,” Martins said. “These [are] the steps for him. This is the beginning for Rajah. That’s not to say that I think Alpha Prime Racing is the final destination for him. I think he’s gonna go as far as he wants to go in the entire sport.”

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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