The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will welcome a new driver to its ranks this week at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties. Will Hatcher, a lifelong resident of Satanta, Kan., will participate in the Pro Stock category for the first time in the American Ethanol 2017 Dodge Dart that Deric Kramer drove last season.
Hatcher is a second-generation NHRA drag racer and has participated in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series since 2003. His relationship with NHRA, however, began at the age of 10, when Hatcher began competing in NHRA Junior Drag Racing, winning his first event in 1994. Most recently, his drag racing success resulted in winning the 2017 Division 5 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Champion in Comp Eliminator.
As the old saying goes, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” Hatcher has been prepared for an opportunity to run Pro Stock. He received his Pro Stock license in 2012, so when he received a call from the Kramer family earlier this year asking if he would be interested in running their Dodge Pro Stock machine at a few events, he was more than ready to take on the challenge.
“I’ve dreamed of driving a Pro Stock car as far back as I can remember,” said Hatcher. “It feels a little surreal. I can’t wait to get out there and give it my all. There are so many people supporting me and making this opportunity possible. I’m beyond grateful and blessed by God. Hopefully we can make them proud and have a lot of fun out there. It’s especially cool that I’ll get to work on the car side-by-side with my dad. Racing has always been a family sport for us.”
Heartland Motorsports Park holds special significance for Hatcher as the setting for his first victory in Junior Dragster as well as his first event win in Comp Eliminator. It feels almost serendipitous that his first competitive pass in Pro Stock should take place at this historic track.
“To be a Kansan, racing in the state capitol at an iconic Kansas track and sponsored by Kansas businesses, is truly an honor,” said Hatcher. “Fry Eye Associates, Billy’s Blue Duck BBQ and Conestoga Energy have been so generous in their support of this endeavor. We have such an incredible community in southwest Kansas. I’m excited to represent them this weekend.”