Bo Butner wheels the JHG Pro Stock Camaro to the final round at NHRA Phoenix
PHOENIX (March 26, 2023) – The 38th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals nearly came up aces for Bo Butner in the Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Chevrolet Camaro, and although he was ultimately one win light shy of claiming his first Pro Stock Wally since 2019, the 2017 champion was elated to be back in form.
Butner reached the Pro Stock final round – his first since he was runner-up in Phoenix in 2020 – next to second-year competitor Camrie Caruso. Ultimately, Caruso earned the first Pro Stock win of her career in a close race after leaving the starting line just .010-second ahead of Butner and clocking a 6.592-second pass to his equally strong 6.593.
"We didn't win today, but I'm very pleased, very happy," said Butner. "Our Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Chevrolet Camaro made a good run there in the final, and it was just a great race. I'm very much looking forward to going to Pomona next week – it's going to be fast there, and we're excited after what we were able to do here this weekend."
Qualified in the No. 11 position to his opponent's No. 6 start, Butner should have been at a bit of a disadvantage to teammate Erica Enders in the opening act, but he and his JHG crew buckled down to get it done. Selected as the Pro Stock Marquee Match-up by NHRA officials, the nearly identical red Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Chevys had the attention of everyone in the packed grandstands at the sold-out event – including sponsor Jason Johnson. With a large task ahead of him, Butner left the starting line first by .016-second and powered to a winning 6.565, 208.17 over the defending series champion's 6.569, 208.88.
In round two, he was better at both ends of the track to top Elite Motorsports compatriot Fernando Cuadra Jr. and earn a ticket to the semifinals for the first time since joining the team at the beginning of 2022. There, he met Kyle Koretsky, and it was there, also, that he got his lucky round of the day.
Koretsky left the starting line -.023 too soon and illuminated the red light, automatically triggering the win light in Butner's lane. As Butner attempted to power towards the pleasingly bright beacon on the scoreboard, the tires on his JHG machine chattered hard on the racing surface, and his pace was dramatically slowed. He could only coast down the quarter mile in his victory lap.
"We've had luck the last year or so, but it's all been bad," laughed Butner. "It was nice to see our luck turn a little bit here today. Maybe that will set the tone for the rest of the season. We won as many rounds today as we did in the last eight races last year. Today was a good day."
For his efforts on Sunday in Phoenix, Butner also qualified for the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge at next weekend's NHRA Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip. The special bonus race pits the semifinalists from the previous race against one another during qualifying for a rematch, and the winners of their respective rounds will advance to the final. The Pro Stock winner in the race-within-a-race will be awarded $7,500 and three bonus points that will be added to their point total at the beginning of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. The runner-up will receive two points at the start of the Countdown, and the quickest losing semifinalist will receive one bonus point.
"That's going to be fun," said Butner. "We'll race Kyle [Koretsky] in the first round of the challenge, and that's going to be a good race – I know he's disappointed with how it went, but even though we got the win light there, we didn't make a great pass, either. We think we can have a better showing next time around."
The next Pro Stock event on the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour will be the 63rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at the In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip, March 30-April 2.
R1: Bo Butner defeated Erica Enders, (.060-second reaction time) 6.565-second at 208.17 mph to (.076) 6.569, 208.88
R2: Butner def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., (.020) 6.591, 208.17 to (.041) 6.607, 209.26
R3: Butner def. Kyle Koretsky, (.066) 22.587, 34.08 to (-.023) 16.351, 50.24
R4: Camrie Caruso def. Butner, (.044) 6.592, 210.31 to (.054) 6.593, 209.23
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Standings
(unofficial) after at Phoenix, race 2 of 18
1. Troy Coughlin Jr., 156
2. Camrie Caruso, 149
3. Kyle Koretsky, 133
4. Matt Hartford, 130
5. Mason McGaha, 129
6t. Greg Anderson, 128
6t. Bo Butner, 128
8. Dallas Glenn, 114
9. Cristian Cuadra, 95
10. Aaron Stanfield, 94