Cpl. James Wallace said he was certainly surprised to see Petty pull up in his trademark No. 43 race car Friday, and was really stunned when Petty presented him with the mortgage-free house located in Bolingbrook.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Wallace said. "I keep thinking this isn't real."
The house was a gift from Eckrich, Operation Homefront and Wells Fargo.
Petty also invited the Wallaces to attend Sunday's Sprint Cup race at the Chicagoland Speedway.
"I've been a part of giving away a lot of things in my lifetime, but I don't remember giving away a house," Petty said in a written statement. "That's a pretty big deal for anyone."
Wallace, who has been deployed to Afghanistan twice, said the home would allow his family of three to remain near their Illinois roots and set down a base for the next phase of their lives.
"Being in the military, you move around, you rent houses, you get deployed," Wallace said. "To now have a home of our own, a place where we can settle into and call our own means so much to me and my family."
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