ES: RWI driver announcement

Rusty Wallace, Inc. And Homelife Communities To Expand 2007 NASCAR Program --Talented Teenage Racer, Chase Austin, to Join Steve Wallace in RWI Stables-- HAMPTON, GA (March 16, 2007)--Officials of Rusty Wallace, Incorporated (RWI) announced...

Rusty Wallace, Inc. And Homelife Communities To Expand 2007 NASCAR Program
--Talented Teenage Racer, Chase Austin, to Join Steve Wallace in RWI Stables--

HAMPTON, GA (March 16, 2007)--Officials of Rusty Wallace, Incorporated (RWI) announced today that 17-year old short track phenom, Chase Austin, has joined RWI Racing's driver development program. This program will see Austin behind the wheel of an RWI No. 66 Dodge Charger for the entire 14-race NASCAR Busch East Series, with primary backing from RWI's Busch Series sponsor, Atlanta, GA-based home builder, HomeLife Communities.

Austin will join Steve Wallace, the youngest son of NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, as one of the two drivers currently competing under the RWI banner. Wallace and Austin will pilot identically painted No. 66 HomeLife Communities Dodge Chargers prepared at the state-of-the-art RWI complex, located just north of Charlotte, NC. Though he is only 17 years old, Austin has won more than 100 feature races in go-karts, stock cars and sprint cars.

Said Austin, "This is an incredible opportunity for me. Rusty Wallace is one of the true legends in racing, and it's really an honor for me to get to drive for him. RWI has great equipment and I know that they'll give me some of the best cars out there. I'm really looking forward to getting started and putting our HomeLife Communities Dodge Charger in victory lane."

Much like Rusty Wallace, Austin competed and won, in the Midwest-based American Speed Association before deciding to make the jump to NASCAR. With that in mind, Wallace, one of NASCAR's top-ten all-time winningest drivers and ABC / ESPN's Lead Auto Racing Analyst, is eager to help Austin become a pioneering and successful African American driver in one of NASCAR's touring series and beyond.

The NASCAR Busch East Series features 13 races, plus the NASCAR All-Star Showdown event, at 12 tracks, using cars similar to those in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Noted Wallace, "When we started looking at ways to grow our team, NASCAR brought Chase Austin to our attention. We ended up inviting him to a test at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and we were all very pleasantly surprised at how well he did," Wallace continued, "I believe that Chase has a real future in this sport. Not only is he fast, but he understands the sponsorship and public relations side of things, which is definitely unique for someone his age."

"While Chase is not a part of the Drive for Diversity program, we all definitely support it and fully believe in the cause," Wallace said, "Right now though, Chase just wants to focus on driving for Rusty Wallace, Inc. and learning what it takes to win races at a higher level. We're going to give Chase everything he needs to do just that. I really believe that he's going to have a great year; if it goes as well as we hope, we could potentially be looking at Steve (Wallace) having a Busch Series teammate in 2008."

RWI's 2007 Busch East Series title bid will be headed up by the team's current Busch Series Car Chief, Steve Darne. In a similar role, Darne served as Crew Chief for Steve Wallace's limited 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series campaign. During that span, Darne led RWI to four wins, four poles and the season-long "pole award," while competing in only nine events. In what could only be called a truly dominating performance, the Darne-led RWI ARCA squad managed to lap the entire field en route to a victory in the spring 2006 ARCA event at Michigan.

While the driver and crew chief may be key components of any racing program, those in the know understand that sponsorship is the lifeblood of any team. For RWI, Atlanta, GA's HomeLife Communities is just that. Stated HomeLife Communities CEO, Jon Been, "Just like Steve Wallace, we see a great driver and a lot of potential in Chase Austin. Everyone at our company is excited about seeing how the coaching and support of the RWI organization will help Chase grow. We're a very success-oriented company and we believe that Rusty, Steve, Chase and the entire RWI organization will help us send that messaging. It's our belief that NASCAR should be enjoyed by all types of people, but to best do that, the drivers and teams should represent all of those types. We're proud to do just a small part towards making that happen. A lot of our homeowners and potential homebuyers are NASCAR fans and we're looking forward to having them up close and involved in our partnership with RWI."

-credit: rwi

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Drivers Rusty Wallace , Steve Wallace , Chase Austin