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Darlington, SC - (October 19, 2004)  On Friday, November 12, Orlando Hudson will play a part in a sport that's a bit more fast-paced than baseball. Hudson, the starting second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, will serve as grand marshal for the Darlington 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The event will be the first-ever night race in Darlington Raceway's 55-year history.

Hudson is a Darlington native and graduate of Darlington High School, where he played basketball and football in addition to baseball. He attended Spartanburg Methodist College where he played baseball, was an All-Region selection and was invited to the NJCAA All-Star Team.

After several years in the minor leagues, Hudson made his Major League Baseball debut with Toronto on July 24, 2002 at Baltimore. He picked up his first ML hit and RBI just two days later, on July 26 at Minnesota, and hit his first career home run on August 2, again facing the Orioles.

A switch hitter who throws right-handed, Hudson batted .268 last season with nine home runs (all from the left side of the plate), 57 RBI, and set the Blue Jays' record for second basemen with 477 assists.

"Growing up in Darlington, I remember some of the most exciting times of the year were when the races came around," Hudson said. "There was so much going on, it was like Christmas. To have the chance to be a part of all that is something I'm really looking forward to."

Night racing will make its official Darlington debut on Friday, November 12, when Orlando Hudson gives the command for the drivers to start their engines for the Darlington 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Published start time for the event is 8 p.m. Bobby Hamilton is the defending champion. Friday will also feature qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch series beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The weekend continues on Saturday, November 13, with the BI-LO 200 NASCAR Busch Series race. Start time for that event, won last year by Brian Vickers, is 1 p.m.

Sunday, November 14 will feature the 55th, and final, running of the Mountain Dew Southern 500, the penultimate race in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. This legendary event was first run in 1950, but will see its inaugural checkered flag under the lights in 2004. Terry Labonte is the defending race champion. Published start time is 1:30 p.m.

For tickets or more information on upcoming events at Darlington Raceway, call the Raceway ticket hotline toll-free at 866.459.RACE (7223), or log onto www.darlingtonraceway.com.

 
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