Success was celebrated on Friday, as students who especially excelled in the Darlington Raceway/Darlington County School District Summer Reading Program were awarded medals by seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

The program partnership between the raceway and the school district resulted in 771 students – kindergarten through eighth grade – participating. The district-wide program also involved the Darlington County Library system, the TEACH Foundation and South Carolina Future Minds. The four local libraries in Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar and Society Hill hosted students in the program.

Prior to the first practice session for Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500, Johnson met with students and awarded 27 medals to the top three readers in kindergarten and grades 1-8, in the Bojangles’ Suite overlooking the famed 1.366-mile race track.

“This summer’s program was a true community effort,” Tharp said. “We can all be proud of what each and every student achieved. And the fact that one of NASCAR’s top drivers, Jimmie Johnson, could join us to recognize the program’s top readers was a fitting wrap-up to a successful summer for these bright young minds we honored today.”

Added Johnson: “We’re very happy and honored to be a part of rewarding these kids for their efforts. Our sport does a fantastic job of giving back to the communities where we race. I’m very proud of Darlington Raceway and the 27 smiling kids today when we passed out some awards.”

Darlington Raceway PR/Photo Harrelson Photography

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