St. Louis: Shige Hattori - NASCAR spotlight

SHIGE HATTORI RETURNS TO GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver has win at track DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Apr. 29, 2005) -- In a season of firsts for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie Shige Hattori, this weekend will...

SHIGE HATTORI RETURNS TO GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver has win at track

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Apr. 29, 2005) -- In a season of firsts for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series rookie Shige Hattori, this weekend will finally offer a familiar backdrop. Saturday's Dodge Ram Tough 200 brings Hattori back to Gateway International Raceway, one of two American tracks at which he has notched a victory. His triumph at the 1.25-mile oval came in 1998 in the Indy Lights Series.

"I've driven at Gateway a few times when I raced in the CART and Indy Lights Series," Hattori said, while testing a truck there for the first time. "I won there in 1998 with an Indy Light Car. I like the track very much.

"This time it was just a little different," he added with a smile.

Hattori began racing karts in 1979 after attending auto races with his uncle near his hometown of Okayama, Japan. After several years in Japanese racing circuits -- including a Rookie of the Year and series championship in the Formula Toyota Esso Challenge Cup Series -- Hattori decided to make the jump to American auto racing. In 1998, his third season in America, Hattori won an Indy Lights Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway becoming the first Japanese driver to win an oval track race in the United States. Not surprisingly, he lists the track as one of his favorites.

This year Hattori is making the transition from a career in open-wheel cars to driving in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Hattori will spend the 2005 season in the No. 9 AISIN/AISIN AW Toyota Tundra for Germain/Arnold Racing.

Hattori's start in the season-opening Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at Daytona International Speedway made him the second Japanese driver to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series -- Kenji Mamota competed at Phoenix International Raceway in 1995.

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Series NASCAR Truck