MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Hattori Racing Enterprises (HRE) announced today that organization will field a full-time Toyota Camry entry in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with driver Max McLaughlin. Shige Hattori’s history of team ownership is heavily rooted in the K&N Pro Series, and 2019 will mark the organization’s return to full-time competition for the first time since 2014. McLaughlin will take the first green flag of the season at New Smyrna Speedway on February 10th in the No. 1 Textron Off Road, Mohawk Northeast Inc. Camry with crew chief Robert Huffman.
The 2019 season will mark McLaughlin’s first full-time season on asphalt. The son of six-time NASCAR XFINITY Series race winner, Mike McLaughlin, spent 2016-2018 competing in the Super DirtCar Series Big Block Modified tour and finished third in the driver point standings last season with eight top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. Not only was “Mad Max” a perennial contender on the tour but he also garnered two-consecutive Most Popular Driver Awards in 2017 and 2018.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me to further my career,” McLaughlin said. “This will be my first concentrated effort in asphalt racing and this will be a big change and challenge. I’m definitely looking forward to the variety of racetracks and our expectation is to go win races and be a contender for the championship. This will be a big transition for me, but there are a lot of great people at HRE and I’m confident we’ll be one of the teams to beat throughout the season.”
The 18-year old from Mooresville, NC has one NASCAR start to his credit, which came last season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Eldora Speedway. McLaughlin’s effort in ’19 will include running engines prepared by students from NASCAR Technical Institute’s (NTI) Spec Engine Program. The top students earn their way into NTI’s engine program with academic and attendance excellence and will play a large role in McLaughlin’s 2019 campaign.
HRE’s return to the NKPSE will also feature students from Toyota Technical College in Japan. For the ninth year, HRE will welcome TTC students to the Mooresville, N.C. race shop for a week’s worth of race preparation and instruction at NTI.
“We’re very excited to get back into the K&N Pro Series full time this season,” Hattori said. “Our team has a lot of history and success in the series. We want to expand our team and offer more opportunities for young drivers and this is a way to do that. I’m happy to have Max join our group. This is a big step for him and our team, and we’re confident he’ll do a great job this season.”