By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
After a career season in 2018, NASCAR Next graduate Austin Hill will move to the defending NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship team, Hattori Racing Enterprises, replacing last year’s champion Brett Moffitt.
The Winston, GA native will pilot the No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra full-time in 2019. Chiba Toyopet will adorn the No. 16 at Daytona International Speedway. Further sponsorship details will be announced later.
Hill, who has 51 starts in the Truck Series, completed his first full season with Young’s Motorsports in 2018. The 24-year-old earned his best career finish, fifth, in the Playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway last season.
“I’m thrilled to join HRE this season,” Hill said. “Shige has built a great team and what they accomplished last season has me extremely optimistic heading to Daytona. I’ve had the pleasure to work with great teams in the past, including my family’s team in the K&N Series, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime at HRE. 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.”
2018 marked the second full season for Hattori Racing Enterprises. Despite sponsorship issues nearly sidelining the Mooresville, N.C.-based team on several occasions, HRE won six races, earned 13 top-five and top-10 finishes en-route to their first championship with Moffitt. Lack of sponsorship ultimately led to the release of Moffitt from the Shige Hattori-owned team during the off-season.
“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.”
Scott Zipadelli will return to the pit box as the crew chief of the No. 16 Toyota Tundra. Hill will make the third different driver in three years for the championship-winning crew chief, having worked with Ryan Truex in 2017 and Moffitt last season. Between both the Xfinity and Truck Series, Zipadelli has 10 victories.
“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.”