Hattori Racing-Cinderella Story No More

Hattori Racing may be one of the greatest Truck Series stories in recent years.

In the past, you didn’t hear about Hattori Racing who is owned by Shigeaki Hattori until their incredible success story last year. With driver Ryan Truex competing for them in 2016 and 2017, they ran a combined 38 races and had a best finish of second at Daytona in 2016.

In 2016 the team only ran 15 races with Truex, completed 94 percent of the laps, led 14 laps, one top five and four top 10 finishes, along with two DNFs. The team even withdrew from the Iowa race. Needless to say, it was a learning year for Shigeaki’s team.

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The following season, 2017, was a much better year as current crew chief Scott Zipadelli came aboard. They had a much better-showing stats wise, with the top fives up to eight, and their top 10s up to 13, but the DNFs increased to five and they completed fewer laps (92 percent). However, there was an increase in laps led to 115.

With an unfortunate start at Daytona in 2017, not even completing a lap and finishing 28th, the season got off to a rocky start. However, the tide began to turn at Martinsville, where driver Ryan Truex finished 10th. They followed it up at Kansas with a sixth, fourth at Charlotte, 10th at Dover, fourth at Texas,  and seventh at Gateway but had issues at Kentucky and Eldora.

At the Chicago race where the playoffs standings were decided, all the team needed to do was win or find a little bit of luck. The team almost pulled it off by starting on the pole and finishing fourth after leading 29 laps.

Unfortunately, the team fell short of that goal and missed the Playoffs by a tiebreaker. In the Playoffs, Hattori’s team finished second at Loudon and even had a pole at Las Vegas. At Homestead, the team finished their year with a fourth place finish at a track that would decided their fate one year from now.

With a new season in 2018, came in a new driver. Insert, Brett Moffitt who has had up and down seasons throughout his career, finding himself out of a ride at multiple organizations.

It all came for full circle for Hattori when they hired Moffitt to drive for them in 2018. Moffitt had driven for them in his second start in 2013 when they were a part-time team.

Just like 2017, the Daytona race similar results due to a crash and their season was off to a rough start with a finish of 26th. However, one week later at Atlanta, Hattori won their first ever race with Moffitt. Even then, fans thought they still didn’t have a chance to compete for the championship.

But the team sparked fire at Vegas and Martinsville, finishing third at both tracks. And while Dover, Kansas and Fort Worth saw poor finishes, the team rebounded in Iowa with a thrilling finish to win the race. For race fans, it started to sink in that this team might end up competing and possibly winning the championship that year.

However, winning a championship was far from Hattori’s mind after the Iowa race, as they did not have funding to race at Chicago a week later.

But thanks to Fr8auctions, the team received support and was able to go to Chicago. And what did they do that weekend? They went out and won the race.

More sponsors came aboard such as Iracing, Toyota Tsusho, Otics USA, Don Valley North Toyota/Weins Canada, TZ/Osaka Toyota, American Red Cross, AW N.C., Kobe Toyopet and of course, the Aisin Group.

Hattori was on a week-to-week basis sponsorship-wise, not knowing when their final race would be. The team pulled out two more wins at Michigan and the cut-off race at Phoenix which solidified their spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead.

The time for redemption came at Homestead for the championship race. After all those years of frustration, going through different drivers, sponsors and late nights at the shop, Hattori’s determination finally paid off, as they won the 2018 Truck Series championship with Moffitt.

Unfortunately, the team didn’t have enough backing to bring Moffitt back to the team for the 2019 season and was let go. The team searched and found a new driver, Austin Hill who previously drove for Young’s Motorsports last year.

It may have been a wreckfest for the season-opener but the team picked up right where they left off at Homestead and won at Daytona.

Maybe to some, Hattori could still be anunderdog team, but you can throw out the Cinderella story as they are a team that can win, week-in and week-out. Sure, they will have trying times with a new driver, but every team has a off-weekend at some point.

Considering where the team has come from when they started in 2013 competing in only one race and as a part-time effort in 2015-2016, Hattori Racing has made a name for themselves and become both fan and championship favorites in 2019.

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