It took more than two years and eight final round appearances before Bo Butner grabbed his first career Pro Stock win two weeks ago in Houston. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory provided relief for Butner, but it also gave the 15-time NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman winner added confidence in a class loaded with talent.
Currently second in points driving his Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro, Butner wants to keep his strong start going at this weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Winning his first Pro Stock event has also made him even hungrier to taste that winner’s circle success again.
“I was wondering if I was every going to win again in anything,” Butner said. “It was tough, but it was huge for me and my team. The guys never gave up on me and it was good for everybody. You get that first one done and that worry is over. Every time we leave the house we want to win. Atlanta is a big race with a big crowd and we’re looking forward to it, but we now that we have that win out of the way we just want to continue to go rounds and stay up there in points.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 7. It marks the seventh of 24 events in a year that has seen a different winner in Pro Stock at the first six events.
Butner’s KB Racing teammates, defending world champ Jason Line and points leader Greg Anderson, each have one, while other winners include Shane Gray, his son, rookie Tanner Gray, and Chris McGaha, who won last weekend in Charlotte. It’s a far cry from last season when Line and Anderson combined to win 16 races, with the rest of the class making big strides this off-season. It also showed Butner that parity will be evident the rest of the year.
“I promise you this, you cannot pick a winner for Atlanta because anybody in the top 12 or so can win at any given time,” said Butner, who had three No. 1 qualifiers in 2016. “The gap (from last year) is definitely gone. I don’t think you’ll ever see a gap like we had last year. When it’s this close, it’s a victory just to get a round win, and to sling a couple rounds together is huge. Unless something crazy happens, I think it’s going to be close the rest of the way.”
That makes the victories that much more rewarding, even if they are difficult to come by. Despite a first-round loss in Charlotte last weekend, Butner remains confident in the season his team is putting together. He has qualified second twice and has earned a number of bonus points during qualifying, with that consistency solidifying his spot at the top of the Pro Stock standings. Maintaining that qualifying success and consistency will continue to be the focus for Butner.
“I’m just trying to stay calm and not overthink things,” Butner said. “In this class, you can definitely think yourself right out of everything. This year has started off great and, in my opinion, I’m with the best team. We expect one of us to be in the final every race. Charlotte was a tough deal last weekend, but we’re fortunate to still be second in points.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:15 and 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 6, at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 7.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.