Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous young gun Marcus Butner defeated reigning world champion Jim Halsey in the final round of the PDRA Fulton Racing Engines North vs. South Shootout presented by Penske Racing Shocks to claim his first career win in the class Saturday night at Maryland International Raceway.
Marcus Butner proved that his runner-up finish at the last race on tour wasn’t a fluke, going one step further by collecting his first career Pro Nitrous victory. The 29-year-old wheelman used consistent lights and strong passes in his Jay Cox-tuned, Musi-powered “Heartbreaker” ’69 Camaro to reach the final round, where he met Jim Halsey, the four-time and reigning world champion. Butner left the line first with a .029 light to Halsey’s .040, then he lit up the scoreboard first by just .001 seconds with his 3.64-second pass at 206.64 MPH to Halsey’s 3.63 at 208.33.
“This means everything,” Butner said. “You know how hard it is. You can’t just buy this and hire him. You have to put in the work. We’ve faced plenty of challenges and we’ve done a lot of work and a lot of testing and we’re gonna keep doing it. We’re not gonna let off here.”
That first Pro Nitrous win is a significant milestone, but earning it over Halsey added another layer to the accomplishment for Butner.
“Halsey’s who we wanted,” Butner said. “He sets the bar. He’s the best in Pro Nitrous. That’s who we wanted to beat. Everybody out here is an A player, but he’s the best, and you feel like you actually did something when you can bring home a win.”
Butner opened eliminations with a .001 reaction time and a 3.713 at 204.85 to defeat Cam Clark and his 5.217. He drove around Ed Burnley’s starting line advantage, winning with a 3.682 at 206.01 to Burnley’s 3.719. Butner was first off the line again in the semis, then threw down a 3.655 at 205.94 to knock out Matt Deitsch and his 3.716, advancing to his second consecutive final round.
For the third time this season, Halsey started eliminations from the No. 1 spot in his Fulton-powered “Daddy Shark” ’68 Camaro, then set low E.T. of every round. That started with a 3.694 at 206.86 over Dane Wood’s 4.792 in the first round. In the biggest matchup of the race, Halsey paired up with two-time world champion Tommy Franklin for a side-by-side, 3.60-second race. Franklin grabbed a .002 head start, but Halsey was quicker at the finish line to win with a 3.641 at 208.33 to Franklin’s 3.667. Halsey then lined up against Pro Modified legend “Tricky” Rickie Smith for a rematch of the Mid-Atlantic Showdown final round in the semis. Halsey won this one too, this time running a 3.64 at 208.20 next to Smith’s 3.721.