Coming into the 2017 season, Bo Butner had won exactly zero Pro Stock races, but after a strong regular season that featured wins in Houston, Atlanta, and Norwalk, he entered the Countdown to the Championship as the No. 1 seed with KB Racing teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line as well as rookie sensation Tanner Gray all nipping at his heels.
Entering the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Butner, Anderson, and Line were all still very much in contention for the championship. Butner entered the event trailing Anderson by 40 points, meaning he’d need to win two more rounds than Anderson to clinch the title. Butner knocked off the first task in the semifinals when he topped Anderson in a thrilling 6.551 to 6.564 side-by-side race.
“The semifinals, that was the way it should have been — me and Greg racing each other,” Butner said. “You have to put your destiny in your own hands, and I didn’t want to watch somebody else have to win for me. I had some butterflies going into that round, but we made a good run against Greg, then you have to get your game face back on for the final. I screwed that up in every way possible.”
He completed the rout by beating rookie Gray in the final round. Butner had previously been winless in four races against Gray. In the pivotal final, Gray was visibly ahead but dropped back after his front tire went flat, and Butner drove to a 6.55 to eclipse Gray’s 6.653 run.
“When you are a kid, you dream about hitting a free throw with no time on the clock, and that’s kind of what this deal was,” Butner said. “I don’t know what happened to Tanner’s car, but he’s tough. He’s going to be a champion one day [and he was, the very next year]. But this year, it’s ours; this year belongs to KB Racing, and I’m very proud of that.”
1. Bo Butner: 2,731
2. Greg Anderson: 2,724
3. Jason Line: 2,644
|CLOSEST FINISHES IN NHRA HISTORY|
Hector Arana Sr.