NASCAR: Will Hattori Racing Enterprises three-peat at Homestead?

Hattori Racing Enterprises have won the last two NASCAR Truck Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Can Austin Hill continue the team’s winning ways?

In the most recent NASCAR Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Austin Hill finished in second place after losing the lead to Grant Enfinger on the final restart.

He led 36 of the race’s 136 laps and appeared to be on his way to earning his fifth career Truck Series victory. Hill understandably left the four-turn, 1.54-mile (2.478-kilometer) oval in Hampton, Georgia disappointed with his runner-up finish, but he and his Hattori Racing Enterprises team are heading to one of their best tracks: Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hattori Racing Enterprises have won the last two Truck Series races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2018, Brett Moffitt won the race and captured the championship. Last year, Hill led 56 of the race’s 134 laps, swept the first two stages and won the season finale.

Homestead-Miami Speedway no longer hosts the Truck Series championship race. This Saturday’s race at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval in Homestead, Florida, the Baptist Health 200, is the fifth race on the schedule.

Grant Enfinger is the only full-time Truck Series driver who has won so far this season, and he has already won twice, so this race is an opportunity for another full-time driver to win and likely clinch a playoff berth. Can Hill win and continue Hattori Racing Enterprises’ winning streak at the track?

His win at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November was his first top 10 finish there, and he has improved upon his qualifying position in all three of his most recent starts at the track. However, this time, the starting lineup is set to be determined by an owner points-based random draw, as there will be no practice or qualifying sessions before the race.

The last six Truck Series race winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway have started inside the top 10, so Hill will have a good shot at winning back-to-back races there. He was guaranteed to draw a top 10 starting position because of his team’s first place position in the owner standings, and he drew the pole position.

Hill also is the only driver to finish inside the top 10 in all four Truck Series races this season. He leads the championship standings without any finishes lower than ninth place. He also has led laps in three of the four races that have been contested this season.

Aside of Hill, who else will be a contender? Three Cup Series drivers are entered in the Saturday’s race: Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Brennan Poole.

Busch has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway in all three of NASCAR’s national series, most recently in November when he won his second Cup Series championship. He last competed at the track in the Truck Series in 2014. In eight starts there, he has two wins, six top five finishes, and seven top 10 finishes. He has also led 312 laps.

While Busch finished in 21st place at Atlanta Motor Speedway, this result was not indicative of the speed in his #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. He led 37 laps and won the first two stages before pit road issues and on-track incidents ended his chances of winning.

Any time Busch is entered in a Truck Series race, he is an instant threat to win. Before this poor result, he hadn’t finished outside of the top two in more than two years.

Chase Elliott won the Truck Series bounty at Charlotte Motor Speedway just over two weeks ago, but he has never competed at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Truck Series before. He has also not won there in either the Cup Series or the Xfinity Series.

Nevertheless, he has won in all three of NASCAR’s national series, and he should contend for the victory in this sporty #24 GMS Racing Chevrolet.

In his lone Truck Series start at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Brennan Poole started in 23rd place and finished in 19th. He likely won’t contend for the win in the Baptist Health 200, but his on-track experience should help him prepare for his Cup Series debut there the following day.

In addition to Hill, Busch and Elliott, who else will be challenging for the trophy?

ThorSport Racing teammates and former Truck Series champions Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter have both won at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As noted previously, Moffitt, who now drives for GMS Racing, has won there as well.

Two other drivers to keep an eye on are Christian Eckes and Sheldon Creed.

Eckes competed at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first time last year. Driving the #51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, he started in second place and finished in fifth in the first stage. He led 26 laps and ultimately finished in third.

Eckes is coming off of his best race and his best finish of the season, a third place run at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Can he continue to better his performance with a trip to victory lane?

In two starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Creed has two top 10 finishes, although he has only led one lap. He has finished on the lead lap in all four races this season and has recorded three top 10 finishes. Will he break through with his first career Truck Series win?

Without practice or qualifying sessions, acing the pre-race setup will be paramount for teams. Hattori Racing Enterprises know how to perform well at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Hill is arguably the hottest driver in the Truck Series. Given all those factors, I predict Hill will win the Baptist Health 200 this Saturday, June 13.

Next: 5 tracks to add to the Truck Series schedule

The race is set to be broadcast live from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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