Brett Moffitt will not return to the Hattori Racing Enterprises #16 Toyota Tundra in 2019. As he and the team collected their championship trophy this past weekend at the end of the year banquet, Moffitt was campaigning for a new opportunity.
It was well known heading into the championship race at Homestead that Moffitt wouldn’t return to the #16 next season. Team owner Shigeaki Hattori has signed a funded driver for the 2019 season. Moffitt and company struggled to find sponsorship throughout the season all while winning 6 races and the title.
Moffitt losing his ride is a terrible look for NASCAR. A championship winning driver losing his ride because he doesn’t bring enough sponsorship. It’s a weird dynamic.
So who will be in the #16 truck?
All signs point to Joe Gibbs Racing development driver and NASCAR Next member Riley Herbst.
Herbst is only running a partial ARCA schedule next season as he splits the #18 with JGR development driver Ty Gibbs. You’ll be shocked to learn this but he is Joe Gibbs’ grandson. That partial schedule points towards him doing something else in 2019.
The Las Vegas native brings sponsorship from NOS Energy Drink, Advance Auto Parts, and ORCA Coolers. His sponsors covered him in ARCA this season as well as his select starts in the Xfinity and Truck Series.
Herbst raced the last two seasons in the ARCA Series driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. In that time he recorded 1 win, 14 Top-5’s and 1 pole in 39 starts. In 2018 he made his first Xfinity start for JGR at Iowa and finished 6th. In addition, he made 4 starts in the Truck series with 1 Top-10 finish.
HRE said they expect to have their plans finalized in early January. Moffitt’s comments make it sound like Scott Zipadelli will stay with the team. If that’s true Herbst is in really good hands. Unless Zipadelli on has that winning chemistry with Moffitt who he seems to be unbeatable with.
Of course, this is all speculation but the number of funded drivers that haven’t announced their plans yet is slim.
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