It’s official: Bo Butner’s diverse racing resumé will now include commanding a nitrous assisted Pro Mod beast on Sunday at an NHRA national event. With only two qualifying sessions to gel with a totally new class, team, and car, the 2017 NHRA Pro Stock world champion found his groove and will make his raceday debut. Butner starts from the No. 10 spot in Rickie Smith’s Strutmasters.com Chevrolet at the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals and will race Jason Scruggs in round one at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
“I’m new to this, and the car is pretty new, too – so we were kind of fighting both of us,” said Butner, who was 19th after the opening session on a 6.327-second pass at 199.58 mph. In the second and final qualifier, he was a much improved 5.904, 247.16 to claim his spot in the field.
“We knew if it would just go A to B and make a full pull, we would be good,” Butner continued. “So, we came back the second session and made a good, conservative run. We know this Strutmasters Chevy Camaro will go a lot faster, but we’re in and we have a shot. I’m excited.”
Butner first licensed in Harry Hruska’s turbo-charged Pro Mod machine in Phoenix in 2018, but this weekend marks the first time his name has been on the entry list. Pro Mod stalwart Smith called Butner prior to the event and asked if he’d drive his car for one race as he recovered from back surgery. Smith is healing well and is on-site as crew chief and teacher for the 27-time NHRA national event winner.
The career win-sheet for Butner includes at least one victory in six classes: Pro Stock, Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Gas and Super Street. Jeg Coughlin Jr., with wins in seven classes, is the only driver to exceed that impressive stat.
Butner will have the chance to match Coughlin’s tally on Sunday at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, and the opportunity comes in one of the most untamed and tricky categories in drag racing.
“No matter what happens today, this has just been so much fun,” said Floyds Knobs, Indiana, native Butner. “I have to thank Rickie Smith and all the guys, Strutmasters, Jim Butner Auto Group, and Summit Racing. I don’t know if I’ll get to do this again, but who knows. I’d like to get through today and go some rounds.
“It’s really funny; everybody keeps asking me how it feels compared to a Pro Stock car. I tell them that at 1,000-foot I’m in the car giggling. It’s unreal. It’s very fun, and I’m happy. I like our chances today.”