Courtesy NHRA Communications

Images: Phil Hutchison

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2023) – Chad Green powered to his first career NHRA Funny Car win on Sunday at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip, defeating Tim Wilkerson in the final round of the 58th annual In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals to close out his 2023 season in style.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won the 21st race of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, and the last of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Kalitta’s victory also handed him the championship for the first time in his career.

Green, far lane, took his first ever NHRA win in Funny Car taking out Wilkerson in the finals

Green knocked off Wilkerson in his 11,000-horsepower Bond Coat, Inc. Ford Mustang, going 3.916-seconds at 328.54 mph in the championship round. It’s been a true breakout season for Green, who advanced to seven semifinals and two final rounds heading into Pomona. He knocked off Robert Hight in the second round, handing the world championship to Matt Hagan in the process, and then J.R. Todd to reach the final before a great .033 reaction time helped Green to a memorable holeshot victory.

The Greens, Hunter and Chad, celebrate a father and son double at the NHRA World Finals

To add to the moment, Green’s son, Hunter, also earned the win on Sunday in Top Alcohol Dragster in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

“It’s just been an amazing weekend,” Green said. “First off, it’s been an amazing season. This has been a dream season for us. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. They’ve really come a long way in the last few years and they’ve stuck with me. We’ve been trying all year to get this Wally. We’ve been close a few times, but it’s just been an amazing season. I can’t think of a better way that you could top off a season, ending it like this.

“But I just can’t say enough about our season. It’s been so amazing. You could have never drawn it up like this. This season has been a great season, we surprised a lot of people, and to cap it off with a win is awesome.”

Kalitta, far lane, finally got the monkey off  his back with an historic win at the IN-N-OUT BURGER NHRA Finals

Kalitta powered to a Sunday-best run of 3.673-seconds at 334.98 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools/Toyota dragster in the winner-take-all final round, driving past Pruett’s run of 3.720 at 326.16 to pick up his third win of the season. After six runner-up finishes in his 26-year career, Kalitta finished the job on Sunday to win a world title for the first time.

On a pressure-packed Sunday, Kalitta knocked off Dan Mercier, Josh Hart and Justin Ashley to set up an incredible final round with Pruett. Kalitta led wire-to-wire, setting off a raucous celebration on the starting line as the veteran had finally achieved the ultimate goal in the sport.

“It’s incredible the way the points thing worked out to come down to that last run,” said Kalitta, who won for the third time this season and 52nd time in his career. “I just stay focused. It was obviously a big round for us and it played out just perfectly.”

Stanfield, far lane, used a hole shot to take the win over Hartford at the last race of the year

Pro Stock’s Aaron Stanfield closed out the regular season with his first win of the year, taking down Matt Hartford in the final round on a holeshot with a run of 6.534 at 209.91 in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro. It marks the eighth career victory for Stanfield, who use a great .031 reaction time to get past Hartford, who went 6.519 in the championship round.

Stanfield and Enders teams celebrate the victories at Pomona

“We’ve struggled this year, we’ve been waiting for that win to come so to get it here at the last race is just awesome and given everything else that’s going on in my life, it’s perfect timing,” Stanfield said.

“Matt and I, we definitely go at each other. He’s a great competitor and a good friend. It’s cool to race against them and it’s always a god time beating Matt. It’s not very fun when he beats you. I’m personally, my team and myself, we are as focused as ever. We’re here to compete for championships at Elite Motorsports. We’re going to come out swinging in Gainesville. We’re looking forward to it already.”

Herrera, far lane, takes out teammate Eddie Krawiec in the finals at the In-N-Out NHRA World Finals

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Gaige Herrera’s dominant 2023 season ended with a victory, as the incredible world champion set the single-season wins mark in the category after earning his 11th victory of the season. He went 6.721 at 201.46 in his Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki to beat teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final round, denying Krawiec of his 50th win for a fourth straight race and fifth time overall.

“This is very surreal. The whole championship thing, I have to give it up to the whole team, it’s not only my championship, it’s theirs – especially Andrew (Hines, crew chief),” Herrera said. “He works his butt off day and night to make sure my bike, Ed’s bike, all the Vance & Hines bikes are fast. He texted me during the week and he’s like, ‘I’m ready to go to Pomona and just get this thing done. We had an incredible season, and I’m very excited.’ Just to have someone like Andrew Hines text me and say it was one of his best seasons ever, even though he’s not riding the bike, it’s very cool to get that text message from someone like him.

“I can’t put this season into words. I don’t think it’s set in, what’s been accomplished this year, and I think it’s only the beginning. This season, I can’t even put it into words. I didn’t expect it to end like this this weekend.”

The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series begins March 7-10 with the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.