South Carolina’s Bryant Barnhill To Make First Darlington Start On Sundayby Hunter Thomas September 5, 2020 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Every asphalt race car driver in South Carolina dreams of one day racing at Darlington Raceway, and come Sunday, Conway’s Bryant Barnhill will live out his dream as he competes in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series South Carolina Education Lottery 200.
Growing up just a little over 60 miles from Darlington Raceway, Barnhill hardly ever missed a race at the track, Too Tough To Tame. Cutting his teeth at Myrtle Beach Speedway in a NASCAR Late Model, Barnhill eventually earned a reputation and began competing in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. He made his debut start in 2008, and now only his eighth-career series start will be at his home track.
“I’ve been going to this track with family and friends for my entire life,” Barnhill said. “I think I’ve probably only missed it a couple of times solely because of being sick or bad grades. That was about it. My family has been going to this track with friends and family for generations really. This is something that I have dreamed of for a while.”
Darlington Raceway is touted as one of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR national series schedule. Competitors run so close to the outside wall throughout the race, and many of them earn the Darlington Stripe when they hit the wall. Barnhill is obviously a little apprehensive about dancing with the Lady in Black, but he says that when he straps his helmet on Sunday, it’s game on. The challenge is, due to the COVID-19 procedures, Barnhill won’t have run any practice laps around Darlington Raceway prior to Sunday’s green flag. The first lap will be his first time ever barreling into Turn 1 at Darlington Raceway. Barnhill will roll off the starting grid in the 27th position in the Reaume Brothers Racing No. 33 Toyota.
“I’m approaching it like any other race,” Barnhill said. “I’m human, so I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous, but it’s a good nervous to where I anticipate kind of everything. Honestly, it’s one of those things that up until the point that I’m strapped in and the engines are fired, I’m going to feel a little bit nervous, but as soon as that happens, it’s just like a light switch and everything is off, and it’s game on.”
Although this will be Barnhill’s first start at Darlington Raceway, it will be his eighth in the series. His best finish so far in the series came in June of 2019, when he finished 22nd at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) in Illinois. Throughout the 2020 season, Barnhill has competed in four races with once again, his best finish (26th) coming at WWTR. The 2020 season marks the second with Reaume Brothers Racing for Barnhill. The South Carolina native has moved to North Carolina and works for Josh Reaume’s graphics company while still chasing the NASCAR dream.
“Josh has been a fantastic guy to race for as far as someone who understands my situation and works with me,” Barnhill said. “Earlier this year, when COVID-19 and everything came about, I needed a job, so I could stay up in North Carolina and keep striving for this goal, and I ended up working in his graphics department.”
As the two worked together over the past two years, Reaume knew that competing at Darlington Raceway would be a great milestone in Barnhill’s career.
“He knew that this is my goal,” Barnhill said. “My goal was to make it to Darlington whether that’s Xfinity, Trucks, Cup, whatever, and so he has definitely helped a lot in kind of being a major integrate in this whole process of getting me to Darlington.
On Sunday, Barnhill will be running a throwback to Chad McCumbee’s scheme that he won with at Nashville Superspeedway back in 2007 in the ARCA Menards Series. Barnhill and McCumbee competed against each other quite regularly at Myrtle Beach Speedway in the Late Model division before the track shutdown. McCumbee, who has made it to the NASCAR Cup Series in his career has always been a mentor for Barnhill.
“Chad is somebody who has meant a lot to me as far as someone who has kind of taken me under their wing,” Barnhill said. “I grew up watching him at Myrtle Beach Speedway, and it started off as you put someone on a higher pedestal, but especially at a young age, you hear someone like, hey, he races in the Truck Series and seeing him at your home track and everything, that meant so much to me as a kid.”
Barnhill continued and said, “It’s just one of those things that traveling and seeing Chad McCumbee and how competitive that he is, and honestly, it made me strive to get to that level to where I hop in no matter what it is, I want people to be intimidated by me and know that even if I haven’t been to that track before, when I get behind the wheel, I want people to think that I’ve been there 1,000 times.”
Barnhill will also have Charlie Powell’s name above the passenger side door. Powell was the longtime owner of Florence Motor Speedway, and he passed away at the age of 83-years-old back in August. While Barnhill has never raced at Florence Motor Speedway before due to competing for NASCAR points, he knew that Powell was spoken about within the South Carolina racing family with a lot of respect.
“I’ve always heard his name, and he was always spoken to me with a lot of respect,” Barnhill said. “Unfortunately with his passing, I knew how much he meant to a lot of people, but I wanted to show a lot of people like, even though I didn’t know this man personally, growing up in South Carolina, I knew what this man was about, and I wanted to run his name above the right side door for all of those people who knew what he meant to Florence Motor Speedway.”
The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series South Carolina Lottery 200 will broadcast live on FS1 and MRN at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com