CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Team owner Rick Hendrick today announced the signing of 14-year-old Chase Austin, who will join Hendrick Motorsports' driver development program in 2005 by entering a full season of competition in the American Speed Association (ASA) Late Model Series with Hendrick ally SS Racing.
"On the race track, this young man has a ton of talent and potential, but he's also an exceptional person," Hendrick said. "We're looking forward to working with Chase over the next few years and, hopefully, bringing him along when he's ready.
"It will be fun to see how he matures as a driver throughout this process. Time is on our side, and his."
Austin started racing go-karts in 1998, earning more than 60 feature wins and 150 heat-race victories before progressing to micro sprint cars by 2001.
After 16 victories in less than two seasons in micro sprints, the Eudora, Kan., native jumped to full-size sprint cars before trying his hand at dirt modifieds, along with late models on dirt and pavement.
While competing primarily in the Midwest, Austin has scored more than 100 feature wins at various levels -- go-karts, sprint cars and stock cars -- since 1998. Sanctioning bodies include the Mid America Racing Series (MARS), the Xtreme Dirt Car Series (XDCS) and the Topless Outlaw Racing Association (TORA).
Since its inception in April, the Hendrick Motorsports driver development program has posted three first-place finishes and 10 top-10 results in 10 Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) events with pilots Blake Feese, Boston Reid and Kyle Krisiloff.
As part of the development initiative, Hendrick Motorsports has allied itself with the No. 87 NASCAR Busch Series entries of NEMCO Motorsports; ARCA outfit Bobby Gerhart Racing; and ASA powerhouse SS Racing, which fielded Krisiloff in a limited schedule this season.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2004, Hendrick Motorsports fields five full-time teams in two different NASCAR divisions with drivers Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. The organization has won nine NASCAR championships in the last decade, including five at the NEXTEL Cup Series level.