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Kevin Harvick And Ryan Blaney Race Into Columbia To Celebrate Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles’ Southern 500

Kevin Harvick And Ryan Blaney Race Into Columbia To Celebrate Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles’ Southern 500

by August 4, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney raced down I-20 towards South Carolina’s State House and Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday to kick off the celebration of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 returning to Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway.

After Harvick and Blaney exited I-20, they hit the streets of downtown Columbia, where they made a brief stop at the South Carolina State House for a photo-shoot  and then to the Governor’s Mansion to meet with South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley for Darlington Raceway’s annual Media Day.

“We’ve always been excited because we get over one-hundred thousand people to come to the Darlington area from not just South Carolina, but from all over the country, so we want everyone to know that South Carolina is welcoming you,” said South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley. “Not only do we have great southern hospitality, but you’re coming to the track that is Too Tough To Tame.”

Wood Brothers Racing and their rookie driver, Ryan Blaney kicked off the event by unveiling a throwback scheme that featured a collage of photos highlighting the team’s success over the decades. Blaney has never made a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at the Lady In Black. The last time a Wood Brothers Racing car competed at Darlington Raceway was back in 2008 with NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, Bill Elliott. As for Blaney, he only has one start at Darlington Raceway and that was back in 2012 during a NASCAR XFINITY Series event. Earlier this season, Blaney participated in an open NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test session at the raceway.

“We were able to test there (Darlington Raceway) about a month ago,” Blaney said. “We were part of an open test, and I was able to get a bunch of laps on it. It went really well, so I think it’s a fun racetrack if you have a good handling race car, which I thought we had in the test. We’re all excited, and you know we have the new rules package, but I still think there are some similarities between each package at Darlington. I’m excited to race it, and I think it’s going to be one of the funnest races that we go to, and it always puts on a really good show for all of the fans and the drivers to.”

Defending Bojangles’ Southern 500 winner, Kevin Harvick showcased his throwback No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS at the Governor’s Mansion on Tuesday, as well. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is coming off a disappointing 42nd place finish at Pocono Raceway, due to a mechanical failure, but he currently leads the championship point standings by 46 over Joey Logano. Harvick has earned two wins, 14 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes so far throughout the 2015 season. The team has a lot of momentum heading into September, and if you ask Harvick, a win at Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend means everything.

“From a driver’s perspective and an approach perspective, when they put the Southern 500 on a trophy, it doesn’t matter what the date is,” Harvick said. “But I think when you step back, and you look at the nostalgia of the race and being able to take that same Labor Day time frame and relate it to what they did in 1960, or 70 or 80, or 90 or whenever, it brings a different aspect to it.”

Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits, CEO, Randy Kibler was also in attendance. Last year during the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff weekend at Richmond International Speedway, Bojangles’ Famous Chicken n’ Biscuits announced a five-year contract extension with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway. The partnership kicked off with the 2012 edition of the prestigious event.

“You’ve got two icons in this part of the country, and it just works,” Kibler said. “Bringing back to the original date, you know for the fans of South Carolina and the race fans, that was a good thing to do. But, it did allow the partnership to not wait and go ahead and get five more years, so we’ll be in partnership until 2019.”

Randy Kibler also went on to say, “NASCAR is as much a part of Bojangles’ as anything because of the roots of where it started at, and so we’re very, very proud to be able to be the title sponsor of this race.”

Tickets are still available for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday, September 6, as well as for the NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 on Saturday, September 5. Visit www.DarlingtonRaceway.com for more information on ticket pricing.

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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