What’s the story? Bo Butner is racing Top Dragster in St. Louis

Bo Butner in the Jim Butner Auto Group Top Dragster at the NHRA Midwest Nationals. Photo courtesy of LOOK at Drag Racing / Auto Imagery

In addition to flying the #JHGDriven flag in Pro Stock this weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals, Bo Butner is also racing for the Top Dragster trophy in his Jim Butner Auto Group-branded rail.

“It was a last-minute decision,” said Butner, whose name was added to the Top Dragster entry list on Monday of race week, squeaking in just under the deadline wire.

“I was going to hold off until we did some bracket racing this winter with it, but as you walk past this car at the shop, you’re like…. well, I’m not racing Super Gas this week, so why not? It’s a good car,” said avid drag racer Butner with a shrug.

Butner has most recently experienced a good amount of success in Super Gas driving a Corvette roadster that he purchased in 2019. He won his first race with the car that he affectionately refers to as “the ‘Vette” at the Sonoma national that same season.

After two unsatisfying races in the roadster early this the year, Butner and his close-knit Sportsman crew (consisting primarily of fiancée Randi Lyn Shipp and crew member Dylan Mudd) brought it out at Topeka for the national event. There, he was runner-up, and after going five rounds at the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional in Bowling Green, Ky., Butner won back-to-back nationals at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and then just two weeks later in Reading, Pa.

The question that may next arise as one watches Butner making passes in his Top Dragster in St. Louis is, “Why not Super Gas, if he’s doing so well? Shouldn’t he be chasing points?”

The reasonable explanation is that Lucas Oil Series competitors race for titles on the basis of total points earned at NHRA national and divisional events, but there is a cap. Drivers in the Lucas Oil Series – other than Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car – are eligible to compete for points at eight divisional and six national events. When a driver has filled their quota or when the season ends, their best five division and best three national finishes determine their final points. Butner already has two wins and a runner-up at the national level in Super Gas – and Top Dragster is a category in which he hasn’t yet won.

“I have won a divisional in Top Dragster, but not a national,” clarified Butner, who has claimed victories at the national level in Super Stock, Comp, Stock, Super Street, and Pro Stock, in addition to Super Gas.

“But there are very good racers with these [Top Dragster] cars. It will be difficult. They’re like 230 mph, and we’re not. We’re like 40 mph slower, but I would like to win that class. I have a lot of respect for those guys.”

In addition to racing Top Dragster at this weekend’s NHRA Midwest Nationals, Butner is, as usual, racing for the Pro Stock trophy in his bright red, ever-improving Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Chevrolet Camaro. He’d surely like one of those trophies, too – his last victory in the category of naturally aspirated factory hot rods came in Richmond in 2019.

An interesting note is that Butner has doubled up with two wins at one national event before; it happened in Las Vegas at the fall race in 2012, when he scooped up trophies in both Comp and Stock Eliminator.

Of course, it would be a major longshot to repeat the feat – especially in St. Louis, one of just seven racetracks on the current tour where he has not yet won. However, Butner’s experience behind the wheel has shown that the extraordinary is possible.

“We do this because we enjoy it. But we want to win, too,” said the 2006 Comp Eliminator champion and 2017 Pro Stock world champ. “It’s a whole different mindset, a whole different world getting into the Top Dragster and then the Pro Stocker. But I like it. We’ll race the double-divisional here next weekend with the Super Gas car, and we’ll see how that goes. But right now, I’m just thinking about this right here.”

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