Incoming points leader Bo Butner is on the verge of clinching the No. 1 seed in the Pro Stock after wheeling his Butner Auto Group Chevy Camaro to the top spot in Pro Stock qualifying at the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis. Butner, an Indiana native, took over the top spot on Saturday afternoon and his 6.550-second run from Saturday afternoon held through Sunday’s final two pro sessions. Butner will take on veteran Kenny Delco in Monday’s opening round of eliminations on Monday.
Butner, who also led the fields in Phoenix and Las Vegas, earned a total of 10 qualifying bonus points over the three days of Pro Stock qualifying. In addition to his pace-setting 6.559 run on Friday, he was also the third quickest driver in three other sessions. Butner has been seeded in the top half of the field in ten of 12 events so far this season. Butner has four wins on the season but has been shut out of the final rounds since Richmond.
"We didn't have the fastest car in the last two sessions, but I know we've still got a good car going into tomorrow," said Butner. "I'm very happy with the car, and I just need to do my job. We've tested stuff all summer, but the time for that is over. We've got to get serious about winning now. This is my home event and I've never won Indy. It's the biggest race we have, and I'd love to win it to top off my career.
"I'm not even worried about the points or the Countdown right now," said Butner. "In 2017 we had a big lead and then the points got re-set after Indy. I think you just need to be in the top four in order to have a chance. Then, just go out and win every race."
In addition to his Pro Stock Camaro, Butner has also been busy this weekend racing his Summit-backed Cobra Jet Mustang in the SAM Tech.edu Factory Stock Showdown, and he’s been monitoring the progress of his fiancé, Randi Lyn Shipp who is racing in Stock and Super Gas. Shipp is driving the Super Gas Corvette that Butner drove to the win in Sonoma.
“We’ve had a busy weekend but that’s’ a good thing,” said Butner, who entered “The Big Go” with a 72-point lead over Greg Anderson for the top playoff seed. "I've got two cars in, and Randi Lynn is in Super Gas and Stock, and her sister, Kristi is still in Super Stock. It's going to be a busy day but we've got a bunch of cars left. I hope we can get at least one of them in the winner's circle."
Butner admitted that his Saturday run was a bit of a Hail Mary effort, but it was strong enough to knock his teammate, Jason Line, from the top spot. Line was coming off a dominant performance in Brainerd where he was not only the low qualifier, but also won his 49th career Pro Stock race. Line was also quick and consistent at Indy including a best of 6.561 that is second-best for the weekend. He closed out qualifying with a 6.595, that was also the second-best run of the final session.
Line is followed by a trio of racers using engines from the Elite Performance team; Erica Enders, Matt Hartford, and Alex Laughlin, who are separated by just a thousandth of a second. Greg Anderson, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Fernando Cuadra Sr. round out the top eight qualifiers. Enders, who was a runner-up in Brainerd two weeks ago, has plenty of reason for optimism after she closed out qualifying with the best run of Sunday’s twilight session, a 6.589 that was worth four bonus points.
Cuadra will be one driver to watch tomorrow since he’s fighting for the final spot in the Countdown to the Championship. Cuadra entered the weekend three points behind tenth-ranked Kenny Delco and was only able to pick up two points during qualifying. As a result, Cuadra will need to win one more elimination round than Delco in order to earn a berth in the six-race playoff, which starts in two weeks in Reading, Pa.