Since making his NHRA Funny Car debut in July 2020 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Chad Green has been chasing down a Wally to go with his Pro Mod win. After seven semifinal finishes and two runner-ups, including one at the first race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, Green finally got to hoist a Funny Car Wally at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals last Sunday. Tuned by Daniel Wilkerson, Green beat teammate and Daniel’s father, Tim Wilkerson, on a holeshot in the final round.
Chad was the second Green to win that day, as his son, Hunter, scored his second Top Alcohol Dragster national event win earlier in the afternoon. Driving one of Randy Meyer Racing’s nitro-injected A/Fuel cars, Hunter made his best run of the weekend to defeat Kim Parker in the final round.
Racing out of the No. 8 spot in his Bond-Coat Ford Mustang, Chad beat a tire-shaking J.R. Todd in the opening round. He improved slightly in the second round to knock out championship contender Robert Hight, making Matt Hagan the 2023 world champion in the process. His semifinal opponent was Blake Alexander, who previously owned and drove the Funny Car that Green now drives. Green cut his best light of the day at that point [.065] to beat Alexander’s 3.960 with a 3.961. He got up on the wheel again in the final round against Wilkerson, using a .033 reaction time and a 3.916 to hold off Wilkerson’s 3.900.
Hunter started eliminations on Saturday in the Bond-Coat A/Fuel dragster, beginning with a 5.261 at a career-best 280.84 MPH to beat former Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Angelle Sampey. He smoked the tires at the hit in the second round against multi-time world champion Joey Severance, but when Severance’s supercharged engine went silent, Green was able to pedal his way to a 7.959-second win. After the first round of pro eliminations on Sunday, Green finished ahead of Garrett Bateman in a 5.251-to-5.257 semifinal match. Finally, a 5.193 at 279.85 lit up the win light over Parker’s 5.44 in the final round.
With the excitement of the weekend winding down, Chad and Hunter sat down for an interview with Drag Illustrated to talk about Chad’s first Funny Car win, Hunter’s second Top Alcohol Dragster win, and their first father-son double-up.
Chad, a father-son double-up at the season finale – could you have drawn up a better way to get your first Funny Car win?
Of course, I could not have drawn up a better way to get my first Funny Car win than winning at the same race with my son. Not only that, but it being the final race of the season. We worked so hard all season long to get a win. We came close a few times. On top of that, it was a big goal of mine to finish in the top five. We had to win this race to make it into the top five. Tim was right on our heels.
That also made it extra special to win my first race going against Tim, my partner and the guy I owe everything. I wouldn’t even be racing [Funny Car] without him. I have to thank Tim and Daniel, the Wilkerson family, so much for what they’ve done for me. You put all that together, and the way the race went down between me and Tim – such a close race and to get it on a holeshot – you just can’t draw it up any better.
Hunter, you’ve been to the winner’s circle before, but how much more special was it to get another win with your dad this time?
I don’t think you could have a more special day than the day we had on Sunday in Pomona. I don’t think I’d rather win any other way, to win on the same day with my dad at the last race of the year. Not only that, his crew chief, Daniel, getting his first win against his dad, Tim, who’s our teammate, it was just so many things that came together to really make it a special day that I don’t know if we’ll ever repeat. Hopefully we do. Hopefully we end up repeating whenever I’m driving Top Fuel. That would be one way to top it. But right now, I just want to cherish this moment. It was a really special day. Everything came together in the right way. A crazy, crazy day, for sure.
Chad, with Hunter winning earlier in the day, did you feel any extra pressure to do your part to make the double-up happen?
I think I definitely had a little extra pressure to make the double-up happen, but it’s weird, it was an exciting pressure. I didn’t really feel a big weight on my shoulders. As a matter of fact, when I went into the final round, I wasn’t feeling pressured at all. I felt very relaxed.
I would say I felt the most pressure of the day in the first round after going out first round at the last four races prior to this and knowing what a big round that first round was, especially going up against J.R. Todd, who was sitting in front of me in the points. After I got through the first round, as the day went on, even going against [Robert] Hight, I really didn’t have any pressure. We were going up against Robert Hight – we didn’t have anything to lose at that point. Once we got past him and I saw that most of the big dogs had gone out, I thought, “Wow, we really have a chance to win this.”
As I saw the day progress, I saw Hunter get through the rounds and saw him win the race. I actually had to watch it from the stands. I had to run to the stands just to watch because we were right in the middle of turning our car around and warming it up and doing all that stuff. I just thought, “What an opportunity if I can go win this thing.” Plus, I didn’t want my son to win and me not. It was just a really cool thing.
What does it mean to finally get a win in this ultra-competitive class?
To get a win in nitro Funny Car in the NHRA is the ultimate. It’s hard for me still to wrap my head around that we actually got a win. We’ve been trying so hard and we’ve come so close a few times. We all knew it was going to happen eventually. The way this happened – my first win, the last race of the season at the NHRA Finals and going against my partner, Tim Wilkerson, in the final round with his son as my crew chief, it was just an epic thing. Throwing in that Hunter won the race before me. This class is so competitive. It’s so hard. When we finish in front of people like J.R. Todd and John Force and Tim Wilkerson in the points for the year, I just can’t believe what we’ve accomplished this year. It just means everything to win a race in this class.
Hunter, what does a season-ending win do for you as you go into the offseason?
It’s cool to win the last race of the year because for me and my dad, we’re winners for the next four months. We’re winners until the next season starts. This is the last win that’s going to be on everybody’s brain.
There were times in this season where I lost my confidence as a driver. Definitely the win in Topeka helped restore that. I made a lot of mistakes before Topeka and that one restored it. Then after Topeka I made a lot of mistakes. Randy [Meyer] wants me to be the best driver that I can, so he is always trying to help me correct my mistakes. It’s his name on the line out there too. It’s my name on the line. He holds his drivers to a high standard, and I want to be held to a high standard. I want to earn his respect as a person driving one of his cars. After some downs after that win at Topeka, making some mistakes and not having a lot of success, to go out there and get it all together right here when it counts and win this last race, yeah, it has restored my confidence as a driver.
Eventually, as I’ve said before, I’m licensed in Top Fuel and I want to go race in Top Fuel. There were times when I was questioning my ability as a driver. Sometimes, when you make mistakes and you go out there and lose, you will ask yourself, “Is this even the right sport for me?” But I was able to get it together and we got the win on Sunday. I’m amped up for 2024. I’m amped up for the possibility of going to Top Fuel in 2024. We’ll see what it holds.
Obviously, the Wilkersons and Randy Meyer and his team are the big ones, but who else made this weekend possible?
CHAD: So many people have helped me get to this stage in my career. I definitely have to thank the Wilkersons. I would not even be racing Funny Car without them. They’ve made all this possible for me. I’m so glad that Tim gave me the opportunity to first get my license in his car several years back. We became friends and he let me keep running his car every year just to keep my license and to stay up on it until finally the opportunity came around. He brought me the opportunity to buy this Funny Car team. He helped me all along the way. We were able to bring Daniel along and get him doing this full-time with us and give him the opportunity. It’s just worked out so awesome.
Besides that, my family, of course. They’ve supported me all along the way in this. I’m excited that they’re in this and a part of it with me.
Finally, the people that help us out like BOXO Tools. They’ve been with me a long time, since the beginning. Summit Racing is also on the car supporting us.
HUNTER: I definitely want to thank Randy. He’s a multi-time world champion. I’m not in the winner’s circle without him. I’m not in the winner’s circle without the crew he’s provided me with. Taylor, Matt, Rob – those guys did amazing that day. I gotta thank Tim Wilkerson because he’s helped my dad get to where he is and he’s also the one that introduced us to Randy. I’m not driving for Randy without Tim and my dad’s not in that winner’s circle on Sunday either without Tim. And Daniel as well. Those guys have really helped us get to where we’re at.
I’d also like to thank Bond-Coat, my father’s company, and BOXO Tools. They’ve been on this ride the whole way. All the sponsors that Randy has: NGK, Gunk, Lucas Oil. Megan [Meyer] helps make the car look good and does all the marketing and social media for Randy.
We’re surrounded by a great group of individuals. Some legends in this sport. It just doesn’t’ happen without them. So many people had to come together to make this possible. It takes everybody on my dad’s team. Everybody on my team. To put both those cars in the winner’s circle, you’re talking 20-plus people to make that happen. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears along the way.