CHEVROLET RACING IN NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION
ROYAL PURPLE RACEWAY AT BAYTOWN, TEXAS
SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2017
Chevrolet Claims Fifth Pro Stock Victory with Another First-Time Winner
• Bo Butner earns maiden win after seven Pro Stock runner-up finishes
• No. 1 Pro Stock qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. reaches final, sets track record
• Robert Hight advances to Funny Car final, establishes new track speed mark
• No. 1 Funny Car qualifier Courtney Force resets track elapsed time record
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 23, 2017) – Bo finally knows what victory in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock competition feels like.
James “Bo” Butner secured his first Wally by defeating No. 1 qualifier and fellow Chevrolet driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final of the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
The racer from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, who has scored 15 victories in the Sportsman ranks, had advanced to the final round of eliminations seven times – including the previous race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – in 45 races. He is the 65th different winner in the Pro Stock category and the fifth different Chevrolet winner in as many races this season.
“I’ve had the best car all year long. The best of everything. It just went our way today,” said Butner, whose pass of 6.550 seconds at 212.26 mph in the Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS prepared by KB Racing was one-hundredth of a second quicker (about 4 feet) than Coughlin’s Jegs.com Elite Chevrolet Camaro SS.
“We got it off our back. It was the eighth time and I was due. I’ve always, always had a chance to win, so today it happened and maybe they’ll start rolling like snowballs.”
Following Tanner Gray’s victory at Las Vegas, in which the then-17-year-old became the youngest winner in the 65-year history of the NHRA, it is the first time since 2008 that there have been back-to-back first-time winners in Pro Stock.
Robert Hight, driving the AAA of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, advanced to the Funny Car final for the 58th time in his career. The John Force Racing veteran, who reset the racetrack speed record to 331.77 mph in the first round of eliminations, crossed the center line when the car swerved and was disqualified in his duel with reigning class champion Ron Capps.
“It’s huge,” Hight said. “We hadn’t been to a final for a long time. But you get that far and the car’s running so good, it’s pretty rare that you get a car like this. For whatever reason, it went out and spun. Had it in the groove, and everything was going just right.”
Hight outran teammate Courtney Force (Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the semifinals. Earlier during the event weekend, Force reset the track elapsed time record with a pass of 3.851 seconds in earning the No. 1 qualifier honor for the second consecutive race. Force, the 2016 Funny Car winner of the SpringNationals, has not qualified lower than fourth in the five events.
John Force, the No. 3 qualifier in the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, lost in the quarterfinals when the car dropped a cylinder. The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion is a seven-time Funny Car winner at Royal Purple Raceway.
Butner also reset the track speed record to 213.33 mph in the first round of eliminations. Coughlin, a four-time Pro Stock winner at Royal Purple Raceway and the No. 1 qualifier for the first time since the spring Las Vegas race in 2014, set the track elapsed-time record of 6.499 seconds in the first round. Coughlin made his 101st final-round appearance, and his first final since the 2015 Seattle event.
“We definitely made the right move by switching back to Chevrolet Camaros,” said Coughlin, who claimed his first Pro Stock national victory at the racetrack 19 years ago. “The change in brands had resulted in a gain of 55 horsepower from the NHRA Finals to the NHRA Winternationals, but we lost a year’s worth of development time on the Chevy combination while all the other teams were perfecting their packages. It really feels good to be making solid runs again, and I’m especially happy for the guys on my team who have been working so hard.”
Coughlin dispatched Gray (Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Butner defeated KB Racing teammate and three-time Houston winner Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) in the semifinals.
Other first-round Pro Stock winners included Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa/Neuralog Chevrolet Camaro SS) and Vincent Nobile (Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro SS). Erica Enders (Elite Chevrolet Camaro SS), a two-time Pro Stock winner at Royal Purple Raceway, red-lighted to hand a first-round victory to her husband, Richie Stevens, and end Chevrolet’s streak of elimination-round victories at 60 to start the 2017 season. The automatic disqualification also negated her track-record pass of 213.37 mph.
Brittany Force, who was the No. 5 qualifier, fell in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations when the Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster lost a cylinder. Force was competing in her 101st Top Fuel event.
Brett Candies of Thibodaux, Louisiana, the No. 7 qualifier of 38 entries in his Chevrolet COPO Camaro, advanced to the Super Stock semifinals.
Force in Top Fuel and Jason Line (Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS) in Pro Stock were 2016 winners for Team Chevy on the next stop on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule — the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals — on April 28-30 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. FS1 will telecast eliminations and finals at 5:30p.m. ET April 30.
ROGER ALLEN, CHEVROLET RACING NHRA PROGAM MANAGER: “Congratulations to Bo Butner on his first Pro Stock victory after much heartache in final rounds. That’s the highly competitive nature of the Pro Stock class, with Chevrolet drivers earning the top 10 qualifying spots for this race and track records being set. Jeg Coughlin also showed that he and the Elite Motorsports team will be a force for the remainder of the season in Pro Stock. Robert Hight and No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force led Team Chevy’s Funny Car efforts, with Robert reaching the final round and Courtney falling in the semifinals – to Robert. The SpringNationals was the first of three weekends in a row of racing, and the Chevrolet teams will be looking forward to zMAX Dragway this week and the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.”
An interview with Pro Stock winner BO BUTNER, BUTNER AUTO SALES, JIM BUTNER AUTO SALES CHEVROLET CAMARO SS:
Q: TAKE US THROUGH THE WEEKEND.
BO BUTNER: “We got it off our back. It was the eighth time and I was due. I’ve always, always had a chance to win, so today it happened and maybe they’ll start rolling like snowballs. Good day.”
Q: HOW DOES YOUR APPROACH DIFFER FROM A PRO STOCK CAR TO A SUPER STOCK OR STOCK ELIMINATOR?
BO BUTNER: “I was fortunate to have a lot of win lights in my Sportsman stuff. This (Pro Stock) we’ve gotten a few, but to make it four consecutive win lights is very tough and a lot harder than I ever expected.”
Q: HOW DOES THIS FEEL? DOES IT COMPARE WITH YOUR FIRST SPORTSMAN WIN?
BO BUTNER: “Any win when you stand on that stage – I don’t care if it’s Stock or Super Stock – it never gets old. It’s a great feeling and you can’t explain it unless you live it.”
Q: THERE WAS SOME CONTROVERSY IN THE CLASS THIS WEEKEND. DO YOU THINK IT’S GOOD FOR THE CLASS?
BO BUTNER: “It’s awesome and we need more of it. Let’s get out here and race but let’s do some more of that (post-race words between Tanner Gray and Alex Laughlin).”
Q: TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JASON (LINE) AND GREG (ANDERSON).
BO BUTNER: “I happen to attract strange people, and (Jason) and I hit it off pretty quick. He’s not that much older than me, but he’s kind of like and older brother to me. We talk a lot. He gives my 100 percent all the time. This win, I think, is as strong as if he would have won, and he would tell you the same.”
Q: A LOT OF THE SPORTMAN RACERS, WHEN ASKED, SAY THEY WOULD RACE PRO STOCK.
BO BUTNER: “It’s true, and I thought I’d be a lot smarter than that. It’s a great bucket list kind of deal, but let’s just go race now. It’s out of the way.”
Q: AFTER WINNING THE FIRST ONE, THERE’S NO TELLING WHAT YOU CAN DO.
BO BUTNER: “We had a very good chance to win Vegas, and that was me not concentrating in the final. I actually outran Tanner (Gray). I felt more down on my crew and the people who support me at home, and everyone at Jim Butner Auto. I’m probably going to give away a car tomorrow. It’s a tough deal. Everybody who shows up here can drive.”
Q: WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE WIN TODAY THAT YOU CAN APPLY TO THE NEXT RACE AND FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD?
BO BUTNER: “There was a time I struggle with the tree, which is no surprise. I learned today to just go ahead and stay shallow and that lane choice is very important. Maybe not because of the track itself, but as racers we’re all control freaks. So, if you get to pull up there and I get to control where you go, I think that makes a little difference.”