Austin, Davis would bring diversity

CONCORD, N.C. -- Negotiations were ongoing late Tuesday night to put 19-year-old African-American driver Chase Austin into a full-time Truck series ride this season with a newly forming team.

With 18-year-old Marc Davis planning to run at least six Nationwide races and a few Sprint Cup races this year with his family-owned team, NASCAR's major series stand to go from no African-American drivers to two this year -- a major step at high levels toward the diversity NASCAR has long sought.

Austin's mother and business manager, Marianne Austin, said details of a multi-year contract had not been finalized, but that the potential deal would take him into Trucks, then into the Nationwide Series and eventually to Cup.

But "I know they [the contract details] will work out," Chase Austin said in a telephone interview. "Everything came together in a really short time. Fine-tuning will take some time."

Austin is scheduled to participate in a press conference here Wednesday morning called by Fitz Motorsports, an existing organization which is expected to be revamped and enhanced into Trail Motorsports, with new majority ownership.

"What we're carving out with them would be full time for 2009 and beyond," Marianne Austin said.

Austin at age 14 became the youngest driver ever to sign a NASCAR development contract, with Hendrick Motorsports. But the 2004 Hendrick team plane crash, which killed all 10 people aboard, so devastated the team that it had to drop its development program.

Since then, Austin has struggled, appearing briefly with Rusty Wallace's developmental team until Wallace lost sponsorship from a home building company due to the housing market crash.

Though he was offered the option of going immediately to the Nationwide level this year, "We were thinking more long-term when we made the decision [to start in Trucks]," he said. "Trucks are -- I don't want to say easier, but financially easier to get into. I felt it would be the best spot for me."

Through his years of difficulty, "with my optimism, I knew something was going to come along," he said. "This deal in particular sort of came out of the blue.

"You get a lot of phone calls in this industry," he concluded. "Sometimes you get a phone call that happens to be the right phone call."

Ed Hinton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.