Five races into the 2023 season, Bo Butner's JHG team share their perspective
So far in 2023, Bo Butner and his Johnson's Horsepowered Garage crew have seen a positive turn in comparison to their inaugural season together. Last year, Butner and company battled hard yet came up empty-handed on raceday, but in this new season of NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series competition, they've had a racecar that truly wants to go fast.
Butner's JHG side of camp kicked off the season earning bonus points in Gatornationals qualifying as one of the quickest cars on the property, then reached the final round at the very next race, the Arizona Nationals in Phoenix. At the Pomona Winternationals, Butner qualified in the No. 5 position, his best of the year, and the team has continued to show that they can not only weather a storm, they can battle through with unperturbed spirit.
"We're growing, and things are getting better," said drag racing veteran Butch Peterson, who maintains the clutch in Butner's Pro Stocker and is the last person Butner sees before he drops the clutch to make an expeditious quarter-mile journey. Peterson stands in front of Butner's car as he does the burnout to mark precisely where to lay down a warm patch of tire rubber, then guides Butner and the JHG Chevy into position ahead of the staging process.
"We're working through some things, as always, early in the season," Peterson continued. "I learned last year that we really need to be ready in September. When we leave Indy, we need to be ready to go to war, we need to play well up until then and get all our ducks in a row. When it comes time to play the game, these red cars will be ready."
Robert Freeman, who maintains the engine that beats in the heart of Butner's JHG Camaro, notes that they clearly have the power to perform.
"We've been pretty fast," he said. "Luck hasn't been on our side yet. We had one race we finished well in, but Lady Luck left us in the finals. We have something to work with, though, and we're having more fun this year."
Freeman paused, then said through his signature, grey-bearded grin, "Bo is driving better, and I get to see all these idiots again."
Travis Dieterle, the newest member of Butner's crew, believes that attitude is key in a competitive setting.
"I think this year has gone great; we've started off really strong, went to the finals in Phoenix," he said. "The team, we mesh really well together – me, Butch, Robert. I'm having fun, and that's a big part of it for me. We have some improving to do, but everybody is working nonstop to put us where we should be. We all want to win, and the expectations are high. We aren't yet where we want to be, but no matter what, you have to stay up. I try to stay positive no matter what."