Indy Lights - Chase Austin

Matthew Di Leo MDL Racing
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Ryan Phinny BHA / JMM with Curb-Agajanian
Chase Austin
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Chase Austin Personality Pic
Driver Info
Chase Austin Profile Pic
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Biography of Chase Austin

Chase Austin, a 21-year-old driver from Eudora, Kansas will make his rookie debut with Willy T. Ribbs Racing in the Firestone Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27, 2011, and thus becoming the first African American to start a Firestone Indy Lights race.

Austin took his first green flag at the age of eight in a worn out little go-kart that he pieced together with his dad, Steve. Little did he or his family realize that just ten years later and barely eighteen, Austin would become the first Black driver in history to compete in a NASCAR Nationwide Series oval track event, at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Determined to earn his way up the racing ladder from the start, Austin spent his formative years competing in anything with an engine and four wheels, from tiny 900-pound midgets to intimidating 700 horsepower dirt late models. Racing exclusively on dirt, and mostly in equipment fielded by his unsponsored, family-owned team, he continued to chase the dream by earning victories in virtually every type of car he had the opportunity to drive.

He began to draw attention when, as one of the youngest in the starting field at age 13, Austin bested an invitation-only group of the country's top teenage dirt late model drivers, winning the "Future Dirt Track World Championship." In the following two years, the young talent posted more than 100 feature wins and had earned numerous Points Championships and Rookie of the Year awards in the process.

Signed as a developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports just weeks before his 15 birthday, Austin made history as the youngest driver to secure a contract with a NASCAR team, going on to earn one pole position, two race wins and six top-10 finishes in the ASA Late Model Series that season. The program was dissolved shortly thereafter following a tragic plane accident that took the lives of several of Austin's friends and mentors from Hendrick Motorsports, responsible for driver development.

In 2007, Austin was picked up by Rusty Wallace Racing and made history as the first African-American driver to start in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race on an oval track, and only the second (after Bill Lester) to compete in series history. Austin made starts in 11 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races, earning four top-10 finishes while also making his first ARCA Series start. The highlight of the 2007 season for Chase was his sixth place finish at one of the most imposing and difficult tracks; the high-banked Dover "Monster Mile".

Most recently a part-time driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series, Austin also made his first open wheel start in May 2011 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in INDYCAR series sanctioned Firestone Indy Lights competition with Willy T.Ribbs Racing for the 40 lap/ 100 mile Firestone Freedom 100.

1998-2002 (Ages 8-12)

  • Earned 64 'Feature' & 150 'Heat Race' wins in Go-Karts
  • Captured two track championships

2003 (Age 13)

  • Moved up to Micro-Sprints; Earned "Rookie of the Year" at local track
  • Began racing 750 H.P. Super Dirt Late Models
  • "Future Dirt Track World Champion" event winner
  • TORA Touring Series "Rookie of the Year"
  • National Dirt Late Model Driver's Poll "Rookie of the Year"

2004 (Age 14)

  • Continued racing & winning on dirt tracks
  • Signed driver development contract with Hendrick Motorsports becoming youngest driver to sign with a NASCAR Team

2005 (Age 15)

  • First season racing On pavement as Hendrick development driver
  • Two Wins, Ten Top-10 finishes in limited racing schedule

2006 (Age 16)

    • Driver development program discontinued after loss of key Hendrick personnel in tragic plane accident
    • Races local short tracks for family owned team, serves as own crew chief, maintains full-time high school curriculum "Online"
    • Despite significant adversity, earned three wins, six Top-5 & Eight Top-10s in just 23 races

2007 (Age 17)

    • Signs with Rusty Wallace Inc. to compete in NASCAR Busch East series
    • Finished 15th in season points in NASCAR Busch East series, despite competing in only 11 Of 13 events
    • Earns Four Top-10 finishes in 11 Starts
    • Makes first career NASCAR Busch series start in Memphis, TN

2008 (Age 18)

    • Ran Late Model events for family owned team
    • Earned nine Top-10s, Three Top-5s & One pole position in 15 starts

2009 (Age 19)

    • Led a lap & finished 13th in Camping World Truck debut at Daytona International Speedway
    • Led a lap & ran as high as 14th in NASCAR Nationwide super speedway debut at Daytona
    • Qualified 21st in Nationwide out of 49 cars with only 10 laps of practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway

2010 (Age 20)

    • Represented the Forgotten Harvest Charity & Walgreens in the Million Meal Challenge with entries in the Michigan NASCAR Craftsman Truck race and Nationwide series.

2011 (Age 21)

    • Passed his rookie orientation at Chicagoland Speedway for his first Firestone Indy Lights test on May 10, 2011.
    • Entry with Willy T. Ribbs Racing in the FIL Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Year Series Starts Wins Poles** Top 5 Top 10 Laps Led RAF
Total
Year Series Starts Wins Poles** Top 5 Top 10 Laps Led RAF
2014 Indy Lights 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
2013 Indy Lights 1 0 0 0 1 0 1
2012 Indy Lights 2 0 0 0 2 0 2
2011 Indy Lights 2 0 0 0 2 0 1
Total 6 0 0 0 5 0 4
* Under INDYCAR sanction RAF = Running at Finish
** Includes all poles, including those awarded based on entrant points
Belardi Auto Racing

Belardi Auto Racing is owned by Brian Belardi, a former collegiate football player who has focused his competitive juices into auto racing.  Located  near Indianapolis, the Belardi team campaigns cars in the Indy Lights and USF2000 National Championship in support of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder system.

Belardi is a tough competitor. A former defensive back at the University of Colorado, he had his eyes set on a NFL career before being sidelined with injuries, Belardi understands what it takes to compete at the highest levels of sports.  As a former driver, Belardi also understands the specific needs of racer that is in pursuit of a championship.