AVONDALE, Ariz. – Rajah Caruth brought the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro home in 14th place in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway.
Caruth started the race from the 13th position and finished the opening 45-lap stage in 18th. He went on to finish stage two in 15th. Adjustments to the car ahead of the final stage had the 21-year-old driver in the top 12 on lap 120. His running position reached as high as 10th on lap 143. The young driver was battling for a top-10 finish in the closing laps but contact with the wall saw him take 14th in the final order.
"I was just letting it come to me," Caruth told reporters after the race. "Just trying to be thoughtful early in the race and make it live until the final stage. That was when I really got more aggressive and started trying to get to people’s right rears and being more aggressive on restarts. I felt like I did a pretty decent job. Pretty frustrated looking at this pylon. Five of those guys in front of me, I feel like I outran them most of the day. That’s just how it goes."
Caruth was a regular in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in the 2023 season. He finished 16th in the standings with four top-10 finishes in his first full-time season. The 21-year-old driver came into Saturday’s race with 18 Xfinity starts to his name.
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This weekend’s start was the sixth and final race of the year for the No. 17 team. NASCAR Cup Series regulars Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman each made at least one appearance in the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro with a combined three top-five finishes, four top-10s and one pole position. The team's other starts came at Circuit of The Americas, Sonoma Raceway, Pocono Raceway, Watkins Glen International and Darlington Raceway.
In its history, Hendrick Motorsports has earned one Xfinity Series championship (2003) and 26 race wins in the Xfinity Series. The organization’s last win in the series came in 2009 when Tony Stewart took home the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway.
The No. 17 car number carries a rich history and special significance to the organization. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip drove it to nine Cup Series wins for the team from 1987 to 1990, including in the 1989 DAYTONA 500. The car number was also driven by Ricky Hendrick in various races, including in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in 2000 and 2001. This year’s HendrickCars.com paint scheme was again based on the No. 17 truck driven by Hendrick during his 2001 rookie season.