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Racers from across the United States and Puerto Rico arrived in the Charlotte area this week on a quest to show off their racing chops and, ultimately, take the prize of "Top Driver" in Richard Petty’s Driver Search III, earning the opportunity to qualify for an ARCA race in Spring 2011. Following four days of intense competition at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord Speedway, and Carolina Motorsports Park it was Las Vegas, NV native Bear Rzesnowiecky, an eighteen year-old late model racer, who took the honors.

Rzesnowiecky’s performance earned him the opportunity to race the No. 96 Richard Petty’s Driver Search Dodge in an upcoming ARCA Racing Series event next spring. His car, crew, and equipment will be provided by Petty Holdings LLC.

"This is unbelievable," said Rzesnowiecky. "The competition this week was really tough - I had to run near perfect in every module just to stay in the running. And now, I’m honored to have the opportunity to race one of Richard Petty’s cars."

"This group of drivers was pretty darn good" said Petty. "Bear gave them a run for their money and his hard work earned him the chance to race in an ARCA event with us. I can’t wait to see this kid take the track."

Richard Petty’s Driver Search, a unique training camp and competition for aspiring race car drivers looking for an opportunity to advance their careers, was designed to focus on the core skill sets necessary for success at the highest levels in motorsports. Competitors demonstrate their abilities and learn from experts in the areas of car control, endurance, track management, adaptability, race practices, passing exercises, car knowledge/feel, mechanical knowledge, speed, communication and marketability. The driving modules take place on two short tracks, a road course, and a superspeedway in equipment that includes High Performance Karts, USAC Midgets, Dodge Viper SRT10®, Nationwide-style and 850hp Sprint Cup Series stock cars.

The "Top Driver" is determined, primarily, by the use of state-of-the-art computerized timing/scoring and video/data acquisition technologies. In addition to the Petty instructional staff, guest instructors and speakers included Marcos Ambrose, Randy Lajoie, Dale Inman, Frank Kimmel, Kyle Petty, and Miss Sprint Cup-Monica Palumbo.

"We’re continually impressed by the caliber of drivers that come through this program and this week’s group was no exception," said Rick Fedrizzi, President and COO of Richard Petty Driving Experience, which created and operates the program. "After four days of intense competition, Bear proved that he is ready for this challenge, and we look forward to getting him in the car next spring."

Bear finished third in the 2010 Bullring NASCAR Super Late Model point standings.