Bo Butner announced late last year the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season would be his last in Pro Stock. But a change of heart weeks later reversed that decision, and it’s already looking like a wise choice for the 2017 world champ.
Butner captured the 2019 opener in Pomona, his second-straight Winternationals triumph. Now, he’ll try to keep that momentum going in his Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro at this weekend’s 35th annual Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.
“I’m really happy we came back and had a performance like that,” said Butner. “I feel really happy with my team and so far, it’s been a good choice to come back. After a rough season, a win to open the year is huge. To sit back and think who has won that race, it’s a pretty big thing. We have a great deal going here with KB Racing and the car is awesome, so if I do my job we can go rounds.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of a race that will once again be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including live finals coverage starting at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 24. It is the second of 18 races Pro Stock will attend in 2019 and Butner hopes his post-Pomona results go much differently than a year ago.
After winning the opener as the defending champion, Butner didn’t win again until the next-to-last race of the 2018 season, which led to an eighth-place finish. The already-strong KB Racing team added Dave Connolly to its talented brain trust in the off-season and Butner, who knocked off teammate Jason Line in the final round at Pomona, continues to be impressed with the entire organization.
“The whole group is looking at five cars and we all learn from each other,” Butner said. “I was told we did less to my car than the others, and that’s been good. At the end of last season, I felt like we ran it as its own car instead of trying to run all three cars (between Butner, Line and Greg Anderson) the same. I drive different than Greg and Jason, and they drive different from each other. Having more eyes on things, it definitely helps in my opinion.”
Butner qualified third in Pomona and put together a number of consistent passes, going as quick as 6.501 in eliminations. He’ll take the points lead into Phoenix, where Butner will contend with the likes of Jeg Coughlin Jr., Line, Anderson, Erica Enders, defending event winner Chris McGaha, Pomona No. 1 qualifier Rodger Brogdon and Deric Kramer. But after testing well at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park earlier this month, Butner feels good about his chances at a first career Pro Stock win at the facility against another loaded field.
“It looks like it’s going to be similar conditions to Pomona, so we’re excited about that,” Butner said. “We’ve got a really good car and I have all the confidence in the world in my team. Everyone seems happy we came back this year and I’m glad we did. The class is definitely building and the fans love it. They relate to a Pro Stock car and it’s a sportsman racer’s dream to run in Pro Stock.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 23, also at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
For the first time, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will feature one hour of exclusive Pro Stock coverage on Tuesday, February 26, beginning at 9 p.m.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats for the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals, call 877-840-0457 or visithttps://racewildhorse.ticketforce.com/. 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.