Bo Butner, the 2017 NHRA Pro Stock champion, reached the final round of the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown at the 10th annual NGK Sparkplugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, April 26-28.
The Factory Stock Showdown is a specialty series that takes place during select NHRA national events. The competition showcases the drag-racing ready, factory-built vehicles produced by Detroit’s Big Three by way of the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, and Chevrolet’s COPO Camaro.
The first race of this season’s eight-event Factory Stock Showdown began in March at the 50th annual NHRA Gatornationals, and there were 31 cars on the property vying for a spot in the 16-car field. A disheartened Butner did not qualify, but Charlotte’s Four-Wide Nationals marked race two and a chance for redemption.
“We wanted to do better at this race than we did at Gainesville, so we did some testing,” said Butner, who has accumulated four Factory Stock Showdown wins to date and won the first Showdown, which took place at the 2012 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
“We didn’t test for conditions like today, though, so we’re happy with the outcome.”
Charlotte weather was tumultuous, with rain, hail and wind plaguing the first day of qualifying for the event. Butner’s first pass down the racetrack in his red Summit Racing-branded Cobra Jet wasn’t until 10pm on Friday, but it was worth the wait as he blazed down the quarter mile to a 7.827-second pass at 177.02 mph. Bill Skillman was a bit quicker with a 7.823 that moved him into the No. 1 position ahead of Butner.
Butner moved into eliminations on solid footing with a start from the No. 2 position. When first-round opponent Randy Taylor rolled through the beams and triggered a red-light on Saturday, Butner scored a ticket to round two, which would take place on Sunday.
Conditions were much warmer on the final day of the event, but the Bo Butner Racing team took the challenge in stride. Butner emerged victorious from his second-round meeting with Kevin Skinner by way of an 8.452, 148.59 preceded by a well-placed .007-second reaction time. Skinner was .048 at the tree and ran a 9.339, 136.68.
Floyds Knobs, Indiana-based Butner was handed a bye run into the final when would-be opponent Drew Skillman was a no-show after detonating an engine the round prior. Butner’s Cobra Jet relished the chance to stretch its legs and full-galloped downtrack to a 7.969, 176.42 in preparation for the money round.
There, Skillman’s father, Bill, was waiting.
The elder Skillman left first, .039 to Butner’s .053, and he kept ahead to win with a 7.940, 174.10 to a 7.953, 175.91. It was Bill’s first Factory Stock Showdown win, and Drew went on to win the Stock Eliminator title at the same event for a father-son winner’s circle celebration.
“I want to say congratulations to the Skillmans,” said Butner. “They worked hard, too. Billy deserves a win, and he’s had a very good start to the year. Drew, too, winning Stock. It’s pretty cool to have a father and son do that, and so we’re happy for them.
“I was fortunate to get past a few rounds, and we were very good with that. But now, we’re going to test again before Richmond and get it set up. We were pretty close today, but we just weren’t aggressive enough in the final.”
The next event for the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown competitors will be in Richmond at the NHRA Virginia Nationals.
“I’m looking forward to Virginia,” said Butner, who leads the Pro Stock points and is now No. 6 in the Showdown standings. “I can’t wait to hop back in the Pro Stock car – we’re on a good roll. We’re happy with the Showdown car, too. We’re hopeful that we’ll get our share of wins.”
Summit Racing/Jim Butner Auto Group Cobra Jet Mustang
Position in standings following event: No. 6
R1: Bo Butner defeated Randy Taylor, 10.803-second at 109.36 mph to (no time, left before tree)
R2: Butner def. Kevin Skinner, 8.452, 148.59 to 9.339, 136.68
R3: Butner def. Drew Skillman, 7.969, 176.42 to (no time, did not show)
R4: Bill Skillman def. Butner, 7.940, 174.10 to 7.953, 175.91
2019 Factory Stock Showdown Championship Standings
(after the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, race 2 of 8)
1. Drew Skillman, 181
2. Bill Skillman, 176
3. Stephen Bell, 127
4. Carl Tasca, 112
5. Chris Holbrook, 109
6. Bo Butner, 107
7t. Kevin Skinner, 105
7t. Randy Taylor, 105
9. David Barton, 98
10. Scott Libersher, 83
11t. Randy Eakins, 66
11t. Leah Pritchett, 66
13. Arthur Kohn, 65
14. David Janac, 63
15. Ryan Priddy, 62
2019 SCHOOL OF AUTOMOTIVE MACHINISTS & TECHNOLOGY SCHEDULE
March 14-17 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.
April 26-28 NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, N.C.
May 17-19 Virginia NHRA Nationals, Richmond, Va.
June 7-9 Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan.
June 20-23 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio
Aug. 28-Sept. 2 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis
Sept. 27-29 AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis
Oct. 17-20 AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas