Big Butner Move; Field Set In Las Vegas

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 28 2018

Bo Butner says he is heading down the ladder after 2018 season. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Bo knows about shifting gears and Bo knows when to change careers.

The 2017 NHRA Pro Stock world champion, Bo Butner will exit the “Factory Hot Rod” ranks at season’s end to prepare for a full-time return to his Sportsman racing roots in 2019.

A multi-time NHRA division champion and Competition Eliminator world champ, Butner will race the full SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown schedule next year in a Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. The unique shootout series is a heads-up competition among factory-built Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Dodge Challenger Drag Paks and Cobra Jets. Like NHRA’s professional categories, the series awards points, national event wins and a championship.

Butner, 44, announced his decision Saturday during the 18th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where qualifications wrapped up for Round 5 of the six-event Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.

Clay Millican remained a contender for the Top Fuel title after securing his 10th pole of the season.  Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories for Sunday’s eliminations. Butner qualified seventh on the 16-car Pro Stock ladder with a quarter-mile pass of 6.636-seconds at 207.56 mph.

“I’m still feeling the ‘wow factor’ after winning a Pro Stock championship; I’m still living in that,” said Butner, driver of a Chevrolet Camaro SS. “I’m a Sportsman racer, and after working your way up the ranks and racing in every class in the world, it’s really awesome to hit your goal. That’s one of the key reasons I’m ready for something else. We achieved the goal. What’s next?”

Butner, who has logged 21 total national event wins across five NHRA categories, also may venture into the world of Pro Mod racing after licensing earlier this season in Harry Hruska’s turbocharged Camaro. Butner also intends to re-enter the world of no-prep drag racing with the same Chevrolet Cobalt in which he won the Comp Eliminator championship in 2006.

“My no-prep car is being put together as we speak, and I’m going to try that and see if I like it,” Butner said. “There are a whole lot of options now and I won’t have to race _ I can race when I want to race. I’m probably stepping away from Pro Stock for at least a year because I have a lot of life-changing things happening; I’m going to be a grandpa in April and I’ve put off a lot of family stuff for the last four seasons. I want to get back to that, plus, our business is growing and I need to be there for that.”

Butner was crowned NHRA Lucas Oil Comp world champion in ‘06 and is a four-time Division 3 champion. Butner made his professional debut at Atlanta Dragway in 2015, and this weekend’s event in Las Vegas is the 88th Pro Stock race of his career. Butner has experienced a measure of success in Vegas, including a double-up victory in Comp and Stock Eliminator in 2012 and his first Pro Stock final round in 2015.

Butner has not ruled-out a return to Pro Stock, where he has been teamed at Ken Black Racing with four-time world champion Greg Anderson and three-time world champ Jason Line. “If I come back to Pro Stock, it will only be with KB Racing, no other team,” Butner said. “I couldn’t be paid to go race somewhere else. I’m loyal to these guys because they’ve been very loyal to me, especially the team-owners Ken and Judy Black. When I discussed this with them, they told me that I’d always have a home here. That makes me feel really good.”

During his tenure with KB Racing and with two races remaining to add to his stats, Butner has accumulated six wins in 19 final rounds. He has been No. 1 qualifier eight times.

“I don’t want to hurt Pro Stock (by exiting), and I hope it grows even bigger,” Butner said. “And I want everyone to know that I’m not going away. I’m amazed by the support that we’ve had and the following that has grown. It’s unlike anything I’m used to, but it’s great. These are the best fans in the world. Pro Stock is a Stock and Super Stock Sportsman racer’s dream. It’s the ultimate class to race and absolutely the toughest to turn on a win light. Day One, Jason Line told me that and I thought, ‘No, I got this.’ But he was 100 percent correct. It’s hard to win, and you feel great just to win a round.”

Butner, the CEO of Jim Butner Auto, acknowledged the support he has received from fans not only across the country but also at home in Floyds Knobs, Ind. “Every guy or girl who has helped us, thank you, and that includes Greg, Jason and all the guys who are part of the KB Racing team,” said Butner, whose hobbies include collecting and dealing classic cars. “To Ken and Judy Black who took me in like a son, thank you.

“I have to thank my employees at Jim Butner Auto Group _ they’re all my family and friends _ for putting up with the lack of inventory at times and really sticking by me. They root for me and they made it possible for me to go Pro Stock racing. I’m excited to get back with them and get more involved.

”Our customers have been great, so supportive and always ready to tell me when I need to hit the Tree better. It’s fun and it’s been pretty neat. Who else has a Pro Stock championship trophy in their lobby on a big pedestal that lights up? People come in and take pictures with it, and that’s been a lot of fun for us. I have to say this sport is a lot bigger than I ever realized. I’m proud to be part of it.”

Millican carried his 1,000-foot pass of 3.699-seconds at 327.82 mph from Round 2 on Friday afternoon to his second No. 1 position at this event. The Tennessee resident will face Greg Carrillo when eliminations begin Sunday.

“This team is incredible,” said Millican, driver of the dragster tuned by David Grubnic. “This is something I would have never dreamed of. So proud of what this team has done all season long. It is amazing.” 

Championship point-leader Steve Torrence qualified second in his Torrence Racing dragster. Torrence will face Shawn Reed in Round 1, and the Texan can secure his first world title if he advances one round further than Millican during eliminations.

Johnson earned his third consecutive Funny Car pole with his 1,000-foot pass of 3.879-seconds at 327.82 mph during the final pairing of the fourth session in his Dodge Charger R/T. Johnson, who now has 18 career poles, will face Jeff Arend in Round 1.

“Our car has been running so well as of late,” said Johnson, of Don Schumacher Racing. “You want to come into the Countdown and you have to bring everything you got for all the races. You have to perform your best you have all season. We’ve done that except for Sunday. I’m excited about tomorrow. I’m ready to go.”

Two-time/reigning world champion Robert Hight of John Force Racing, who leads the Funny Car standings, qualified seventh in his Chevrolet Camaro SS and will race Shawn Langdon and his Toyota Camry on Sunday. Title runnerup J.R. Todd qualified second in his Toyota Camry fielded by Kalitta Motorsports and will open against Richard Townsend. 

In Pro Stock, Coughlin powered to his fifth pole of the season during the first session Saturday with his quarter-mile pass of 6.628-seconds at 206.95 mph in the Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS. It is the first time in his career the five-time world champion has posted five poles in a single season. Coughlin, runner-up to point-leader Tanner Gray, will line up against Steve Graham on Sunday. 

“It’s certainly coming at a great time,” Coughlin said of his qualifying prowess. “As the Countdown narrows tomorrow and two seeks in Pomona, every point counts and every round counts. Right now we are second in the points and have a long way to go to climb up to that top spot and need a lot of help from some of our competitors. But to sit on-pole here in Las Vegas feels great.”

Gray qualified his Camaro fifth and will face Alan Prusiensky and his Dodge Dart on Sunday.

Arana Jr. moved into the No. 1 position in Pro Stock Motorcycle during Round 3 on Saturday with a quarter-mile run of 6.845-seconds at 196.44 mph EBR. Arana Jr. earned his third No. 1 qualifier of the season, first since the event in Richmond, Va., and 22nd of his career. He will race Mark Paquette and his Buell when eliminations begin Sunday. 

“We made a really good pass the first session,” Arana Jr. said. “Right there that gave us the confidence boost and the momentum to be able to go as fast as we are going. We didn’t have to play catch-up or figure out a tune-up. The tune-up we nailed it right away, then we were able to tickle it a little bit. We really feel confident going into race day tomorrow.”

Point-leader Matt Smith, a two-time world champion, qualified eighth aboard his Smith Racing EBR and will open against 2009 world champ LE Tonglet and his Nitro Fish Suzuki. Four-time/reigning world champ Eddie Krawiec qualified second aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Road and will race Ron Tornow and his Buell when eliminations begin.

FOX Sports 1 will carry one hour of qualifying on “NHRA Sunday Live” at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) before resuming coverage with three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m.


Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations at the 18th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and Round 5 of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _1. Clay Millican, 3.699-seconds, 327.82 mph vs. 16. Greg Carrillo, 3.939, 305.98; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.702, 333.33 vs. 15. Shawn Reed, 3.876, 295.34; 3. Brittany Force, 3.723, 330.88 vs. 14. Mike Salinas, 3.824, 280.72; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.731, 322.65 vs. 13. Troy Buff, 3.804, 308.57; 5. Antron Brown, 3.741, 322.88 vs. 12. Blake Alexander, 3.800, 321.12; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.742, 326.00 vs. 11. Richie Crampton, 3.799, 318.39; 7. Billy Torrence, 3.760, 327.90 vs. 10. Terry McMillen, 3.784, 326.32; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.768, 326.48 vs. 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.772, 330.15.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Terry Haddock, 4.018, 295.21; 18. Terry Totten, 4.788, 155.31.

Funny Car _ 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.879, 327.82 vs. 16. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.119, 302.35; 2. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.911, 327.19 vs. 15. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.060, 308.50; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.922, 327.19 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.054, 312.06; 4. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.924, 321.65 vs. 13. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.050, 314.24; 5. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.926, 330.55 vs. 12. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.971, 315.71; 6. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.926, 328.46 vs. 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.968, 323.04; 7. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.927, 328.38 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.965, 319.67; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.932, 319.90 vs. 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.949, 322.65.

Did Not Qualify _17. Gary Densham, 4.192, 273.33; 18. Bob Bode, 4.253, 265.74; 19. Jeff Diehl, 4.911, 165.11.

Pro Stock_ 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Chevy Camaro, 6.628, 206.73 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.715, 205.13; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.628, 206.61 vs. 15. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.693, 205.51; 3. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.629, 206.26 vs. 14. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.686, 206.26; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.631, 206.86 vs. 13. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.653, 203.89; 5. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.631, 205.79 vs. 12. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.650, 205.79; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.633, 207.91 vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.650, 206.70; 7. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.636, 207.56 vs. 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.643, 205.63; 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.636, 206.70 vs. 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.638, 205.57.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Val Smeland, 6.762, 203.12; 18. Joey Grose, 6.803, 202.27; 19. Tom Huggins, 6.816, 202.64.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_ 1. Hector Arana Jr., EBR, 6.845, 196.44 vs. 16. Mark Paquette, Buell, 6.990, 189.52; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.859, 195.65 vs. 15. Ron Tornow, Buell, 6.987, 189.98; 3. Hector Arana, EBR, 6.863, 194.88 vs. 14. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.980, 193.49; 4. Chip Ellis, Harley-Davidson, 6.899, 194.60 vs. 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.972, 190.97; 5. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.911, 193.43 vs. 12. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.963, 190.89; 6. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.921, 191.19 vs. 11. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.953, 191.73; 7. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.926, 189.39 vs. 10. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.953, 191.87; 8. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.931, 195.17 vs. 9. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.931, 194.32.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Karen Stoffer, 6.991, 190.51; 18. Katie Sullivan, 7.000, 192.74; 19. Cory Reed, 7.020, 190.59; 20. Freddie Camarena, 7.040, 191.57; 21. Anthony Vanetti, 7.153, 184.09; 22. Maurice Allen, 7.195, 184.39.

Mike Castellana improved on his No. 1 qualifying pass from Friday to remain atop the field going into race day Sunday of the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service portion of the NHRA Toyota Nationals. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Trask Performance, is the season-ending event. 

Castellana posted a quarter-mile run of 5.710-seconds at 252.80 mph during Saturday’s first qualifying session in his 2017 Chevrolet Camaro. “I really didn’t think our run from last night was going to hold,” Castellana said. “I wanted to make sure we did better than yesterday because I knew everyone was going to improve, too. We’re not in the championship hunt this year but coming into the final race of the season is a big bonus for us.”

Mike Janis, chasing his first category crown as the current point-leader, qualified fifth and will face Mike Caruso on Sunday. Rickie Smith trials Janis in the standings and will begin race day from the bottom half of the field after qualifying 14th. He will race Jeremy Ray in Round 1.

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations at the 18th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the last of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Pro Modified _ 1. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.710, 252.80 vs. 16. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 5.851, 248.39; 2. Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.721, 243.85 vs. 15. Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.850, 246.30; 3. Jeremy Ray, Chevy Corvette, 5.732, 247.93 vs. 14. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.814, 247.43; 4. Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.742, 258.07 vs. 13. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.809, 255.63; 5. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.747, 249.53 vs. 12. Marc Caruso, Camaro, 5.801, 246.26; 6. Rick Hord, Corvette, 5.749, 253.33 vs. 11. Chad Green, Corvette, 5.789, 246.98; 7. Sidnei Frigo, Camaro, 5.753, 256.50 vs. 10. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.788, 246.21; 8. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 5.776, 251.25 vs. 9. Michael Biehle, Ford Mustang, 5.788, 255.87.

Did Not Qualify _17. Khalid alBalooshi, 5.851, 246.35; 18. Bob Rahaim, 5.861, 243.50; 19. Steve Matusek, 5.862, 247.66; 20. Danny Rowe, 5.869, 249.63; 21. Brandon Snider, 5.888, 241.89; 22. Doug Winters, 5.894, 242.80; 23. Scott Oksas, 5.910, 238.60; 24. Harry Hruska, 5.981, 248.84; 25. Rick Distefano, 6.092, 239.70; 26. Chip King, 6.998, 109.52. 


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 28 2018
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