Kenny Wallace says he “is a corn guy,” referring to the grain used to make ethanol, a fuel the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver is passionate about these days.

“We are here because decades ago Presidents Ford and Carter said they needed the American people’s help to figure out ways to decrease our country’s dependency on oil and energy from other countries,” Wallace said as he kicked off the sixth annual Southeast Bioenergy Conference at the University of Georgia Tifton, Ga., campus.

NASCAR announced earlier this year it will race with E15 fuel in its three national touring series in 2011. It’s using Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent ethanol blend that’s made in the U.S. from corn grown by American farmers.

Wallace drives the No. 09 American Ethanol Toyota Camry.

“There’s people out there who say we can’t use corn to make ethanol because it takes food away from folks,” he said. “We have plenty of corn to use for ethanol and for food … and as a representative of American farmers, I can tell you this ‘food versus fuel’ myth is just a lie.”

The U.S. is the world’s leader in ethanol, producing 13 billion gallons last year. Brazil is second — annually producing 7 billion gallons of ethanol made from sugarcane — and is the world’s largest exporter of ethanol.