MOORESVILLE, N.C. – After parting ways with reigning NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Brett Moffitt, Hattori Racing Enterprises has confirmed Moffitt’s successor.
Team owner Shige Hattori announced Tuesday that 24-year-old NASCAR Next alumnus Austin Hill will pilot the team’s No. 16 Toyota Tundra this season, with sponsorship from United Rentals for multiple races.
Chiba Toyopet will back the team in the season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway next month. Additional sponsorship for the team will be announced at a later date.
Hill comes to Hattori Racing Enterprises fresh off his first full-time season of Truck Series competition with Young’s Motorsports, where he earned one top-five and six top-10 finishes en route to an 11th-place finish in the season standings.
“We’re proud of what all of our team members did last season, and I’m looking forward to having Austin drive our trucks and work with United Rentals and all of our partners,” Hattori said. “Austin had a great career in the K&N Pro Series and did well in his first full-time truck series season last year. I’m looking forward to what we can do together this season.”
Hill is a veteran of 51 career Truck Series races and finished in the top five in points twice in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, but called Tuesday’s news the biggest opportunity he’s had in his racing career.
“This opportunity is a privilege and an honor, for sure,” Hill told SPEED SPORT. “I honestly didn’t believe that something like this would be a possibility for me. It just seems like every time I talked to people or tried to get with a good team, something didn’t come together, whether is was sponsorship money or them already looking at someone else. I was very fortunate that Mike Greci actually came up to me around Iowa weekend and asked me about what I was doing for the coming year.
“Shige has built such an amazing team and what they accomplished last season has me extremely optimistic heading to Daytona. This is an opportunity of a lifetime at HRE, and to work with an organization like this and bring the money that we’re bringing … along with the support on Shige’s side, it came together perfectly,” added Hill. “Scott and the team proved what they’re capable of last season, and I can’t wait to get to work and see what we can accomplish this season.”
Scott Zipadelli, who led Moffitt to the championship last season, will return to Hattori’s team to guide Hill through all 23 races this year.
“I’m really looking forward to racing with Austin and continuing our team’s success,” Zipadelli said. “Austin is a great kid and has a lot of potential. He has a great track record in the K&N Series and put together a strong year last season with Young’s Motorsports. I think he’ll transition well into our program and fit right in with our group.”
Hill noted that anything less than securing the team’s second-straight championship a disappointment after the speed and potential they showed in the last year.
“Obviously, we saw what the (No.) 16 team is capable of doing with what Brett did last year, and my dad and I have never wanted anything but the best. We believe we have that with Shige and this team,” noted Hill. “I believe we can contend to win races and I’ll honestly be down if we don’t do what he did and win six races or so and another title.
“I have the same expectations for myself as what Brett did last year. I’m not going to take anything less because I’m confident we have all the right pieces to perform,” he said. “I’m just ready to get started at Daytona and start this incredible journey with these guys.”