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Rajah Caruth earned his first win in the NASCAR Truck Series March 1 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Caruth’s win was notable as he became just the third Black driver to win in one of NASCAR’s top three series. His win also underscores that “video games,” or more accurately, simulators like iRacing, are serving as a launching pad for NASCAR’s future stars.

So yes, kids, you can tell your parents that iRacing subscription and your “sim rig” is an investment into their future. No, it’s not a video game, you can add.

Caruth, 21, says he learned to race on the iRacing platform. It taught him “how to be fast” and gave him the opportunity to learn from his mistakes.

“Honestly it was kind of the same when I started (racing) in real life,” he told the Associated Press.

Caruth, while speaking to the Life on the Grid podcast in 2021, said his experience racing in an iRacing series allowed him to eventually land a spot with NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program.

He joined the ARCA Series in 2021-22, and made a total of 36 starts in the NASCAR Truck and Xfinity Series in 2022-23. His win March 1 was his third start for his new Truck Series team, Spire Motorsports.

Rajah Caruth celebrates his first NASCAR Truck Series win
Rajah Caruth celebrates Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Chris Graythen via Getty Images

Perhaps a better-known iRacing to real-life winner is William Byron. The 2024 Daytona 500 winner didn’t follow a typical course of racing go-karts or Legend cars as a kid. Rather, he cut his teeth as an avid sim racer. That experience subsequently led to him getting behind the wheel of Legends car, then late models, and his career quickly took off.

“I think that I’m always the computer kid that everyone looks at, which I embrace,” Byron told Fox Sports last year. “I feel like that’s my nature — I’m very data driven, facts driven, and I like to look at things in black and white. So I think data and simulation has always been that for me. And it’s nice that the sport is working in that direction. I feel like I have an advantage in that sense. I’ve noticed the sport really evolve and how much we use simulation.”

Proof of Byron’s evolution from a kid sim racer into a NASCAR championship contender was brought into light. A screenshot recently resurfaced of Byron, then aged 16, trash talking a competitor on iRacing. In it, Byron says he will “be driving the real car one day and youll [sic] be watching me on your crappy tv that barely has signal.”

Well, he was right.

“I can’t believe I was so bold,” Byron said a after winning the Daytona 500 and being asked about the message.

With Byron and Caruth winning NASCAR races already this year, one-quarter of 2024 races have been won by drivers who go their start sim racing. That figure is only bound to increase.