Butner wins NHRA Winternationals in all-KB Racing final round

Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals
Photo credit: Auto Imagery

POMONA, Calif. (February 11, 2019) – Bo Butner earned the 21st Pro Stock trophy of his career in a rain-delayed final round at the 59th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Butner, driving the Jim Butner Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro, got the win over teammate Jason Line to record the 150th Pro Stock victory for Ken Black’s KB Racing team. It was win No. 8 in the category for 2017 world champion Butner.

Eliminations were delayed completely for the Pro Stock contingent until Monday due to a complete washout on Sunday. A whole different deck of cards was dealt to competitors on Monday as the skies were clear and the sun was shining all day on the racing surface. KB Racing crew chief Rob Downing, along with the newest addition to the think tank, Dave Connolly, worked with Darrel Herron to put the tune-up in Butner’s Chevrolet Camaro.

“The Lord blessed us today,” said Butner, of Floyds Knobs, Indiana. “It’s amazing to be here with our same Chevy Camaro, a lot of the same guys on our team, and a few new ones, too. Everybody showed out this week and did a great job.

“My hat’s off to the Safety Safari, too. They made this a great track today, and my car was really good in both lanes. I tell you, my Chevy was like a Top Sportsman car today. It was very deadly, and I felt like we had the best car all four rounds.”

Out of the gate, Butner had a target on his back. The No. 3 qualifier clocked low elapsed time of the entire event with a 6.501-second pass at 212.39 mph – top speed of race day – to send Alan Prusiensky back home to New Jersey after a 6.637, 208.42 effort. Next on the chopping block was Chris McGaha, 6.526, 211.43 to a shaking 8.953, 105.81, followed by a low-of-the-round 6.518, 211.53 to beat Erica Enders’ 6.527, 211.93.

“Pro Stock is the most competitive, and that’s one reason I decided to come back,” said Butner, who had decided not to race Pro Stock in 2019 but was coerced by his mother, Dottie, to rejoin when the scheduled was shortened from 24 to 18 races. “I’m glad I did come back, because this is great. I have to thank Speed Dawg, Summit Racing, Chevrolet for sticking by me, and of course Jim Butner Auto Group.

“I lost my brother, Jim Butner, two weeks ago. It’s tough, but I know he’s with us today and up there with my father. I contemplated if I should even be out West, but I talked with his family and decided to come, and this win is for them.”

Butner had to race Line in the final round, and although it assured KB Racing their 150th Pro Stock win, each driver knew he would have his work cut out for him if he was going to go home with the first trophy of the season – and the points lead.

Line’s brand new silver Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro was steady throughout eliminations, and he defeated KB Racing teammate Fernando Cuadra in round one with a strong 6.536, 211.93 to a tire rattling 28.385, 29.30. In the second round his 6.531, 212.03 outshined Steve Graham’s 6.602, 209.69, and in the semifinals Line assured his victory with a cool .018-second reaction time to Alex Laughlin’s .055. The Summit Racing driver locked in the holeshot win with a 6.527 at 211.13 over his opponent’s matching 6.527, 211.66.

In the final, Line had a bit of trouble firing the engine before the burnout, and a loud bang echoed through the facility. What he did not realize was that the noise would be a precursor to a significant issue as he made his way towards the finish line. Butner left a small bit ahead of Line and kept aim at the finish line while the silver Summit Racing Camaro began to billow smoke downtrack as the engine gave way.

Butner crossed the finish line with a winning 6.522, 211.59 to Line’s 7.160, 148.58.

Line held his head high, despite his hunger to win.

“It was a good feeling to win the semifinals and know that KB Racing was going to get a win no matter what happened,” said three-time Pro Stock world champion Line. “But I was really hoping to be able to put this silver Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro in the winner’s circle this first race. It’s a brand-new car, and already we’re pretty happy with it. We had a few gremlins with it early on, just a couple of small electrical glitches, but it’s really good. I’m excited about that, for sure, and I’m happy for Bo. We’ll get our win with the silver Summit Chevy soon.”

Butner was grateful to defend the title he earned at this race just one year ago and feels his car and the team are in an even more positive position this season.

“Last year when I turned off the racetrack down there, I was like, ‘yes!’ You always want your first win of the year early. But as I turned off, I thought, ‘it would be horrible if this was the only one I won all year.’ And then it actually fell that way. I didn’t win again until the second-to-last race of the year,” recalled Butner. “We didn’t have a bad car, we just didn’t have the luck. I do not feel that way this year at all. We have a great car, a great team, and I’m very excited to keep it going. We’re going to try to win them all. The KB Racing team is just as strong as ever, and we’ll get even better.”

Race 2 of 18 for Pro Stock in the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will take place in Phoenix, February 22-24, at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

KB Racing, silver Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro

Position in standings following event: No. 2
R1: Jason Line defeated Fernando Cuadra, 6.536-second at 211.93 mph to 28.385, 29.30
R2: Line def. Steve Graham, 6.531, 212.03 to 6.602, 209.69
R3: Line def. Alex Laughlin, 6.527, 211.13 to 6.527, 211.66
R4: Bo Butner def. Line, 6.522, 211.59 to 7.160, 148.58

KB Racing, Jim Butner Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro

Position in standings following event: No. 1
R1: Bo Butner defeated Alan Prusiensky, 6.501-second at 212.39 mph to 6.637, 208.42
R2: Butner def. McGaha, 6.526, 211.43 to 8.953, 105.81
R3: Butner def. Erica Enders, 6.518, 211.53 to 6.527, 211.93
R4: Butner def. Jason Line, 6.522, 211.59 to 7.160, 148.58

KB Racing, red Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro

Position in standings following event: No. 11 (tied)
R1: Chris McGaha defeated Greg Anderson, 7.946-second at 165.09 mph to 27.866, 51.48
“I didn’t do so great today with my Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro, and there were a few of us who had some trouble, but you know, it was still a good day for drag racing. It’s been a great weekend overall, we’re happy to be back in the saddle, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather today. I’m a little disappointed, sure, but you’ll have that. We had two KB Racing cars in the final, and Jason had a good chance of getting that trophy for Summit Racing. That’s a good feeling, and we all feel good about the health of our team going into Phoenix.”

Low elapsed time of event: Bo Butner, 6.501-second
Top speed of event: Butner, 213.10 mph

2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Standings
(following the NHRA Winternationals, race 1 of 18)

1. Bo Butner (1), 120
2. Jason Line, 97
3. Erica Enders, 80
4. Alex Laughlin, 76
5t. Matt Hartford, 52
5t. Chris McGaha, 52
7t. Steve Graham, 51
7t. Val Smeland, 51
9. Rodger Brogdon, 44
10. Deric Kramer, 37
11t. Greg Anderson, 35
11t. Kenny Delco, 35

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