Bo Butner and Ford Motorsports laid claim to the first trophy in the American Drag Racing Leagueâ€™s highly anticipated new SuperCar Showdown division at the season-opening CarSafe Dragpalooza VIII held at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston. Moreover, an all-Ford Mustang championship round pitting the top two qualifiers made for a clean sweep by Ford in the first drag racing category to feature the worldâ€™s quickest and fastest production automobiles in national competition.
A veteran of more than two decades of competition, Butner met teammate Chris Holbrook in the final round of eliminations with each veteran campaigner piloting a supercharged 2012 Ford Cobra Jet Mustang. Butner gained a large reaction time advantage off the starting line and thundered to an eighth-mile clocking of 5.86 seconds reaching a top speed of 119.46 miles per hour.
â€œItâ€™s a huge honor to win the first race in the history of any series,â€ said an elated Butneronly seconds after the victory, â€œbut itâ€™s an even bigger thrill to win it for the Ford Motor Company and Ford Racing. My Cobra Jet ran nearly perfectly all weekend and we proved to the world the incredible power in these showroom monsters!â€
The SuperCar Showdown features open competition among production vehicles from all automobile manufacturers worldwide with engines, chassis and even tires remaining in factory trim. While speculation ran wild concerning the potential performance of the machinery in the new class, even Holbrook and Butner were surprised with the elapsed times and speeds unleashed by the Mustangs.
It was Holbrook, a past Pro Stock World Champion, who stunned fans and competitors by securing the top qualifying position in his Michigan-based Cobra Jet with a phenomenal blast of 5.75 seconds and an equally amazing speed of 120.21 mph.
â€œI honestly didnâ€™t think it would run that fast,” noted a shocked Holbrook.
In the first round of eliminations, Holbrookâ€™s Varsity Ford-sponsored Mustang recorded a 5.76-second run at an even faster 120.33 mph.
For Butner, earning the second qualifying position was a major goal accomplished only on his third and final effort. â€œI knew this new class would be tough after the very first run down the track,â€ said Butner, â€œand it made us realize this was going to be a very serious battle among the different brands.”
Racing against Joe Teutonâ€™s Southland Dodge-sponsored 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT Drag Pak powered by an 8.4-liter naturally-aspirated V-10 engine in the very first official side-by-side qualifying race, Butnerâ€˜s supercharged 5.4-liter Ford found itself on the losingend of a near dead heat with only thirteen thousandths of a second, (2.27 feet), separating the two machines at the finish line. On his final effort, however, Butner clocked a 5.83/119.40 to slip past Teutonâ€˜s best of 5.88/118.74 to earn a one-two finish for Ford in the final qualifying standings.
Former drag racing World Champion Butner, who operates his familyâ€™s half-century old auto sales company in Clarksville, Indiana, displayed astonishing consistency during actual competition. In three rounds of eliminations, his Mustang ran between 5.83 and 5.86 seconds and each winning effort was clocked at over 119 mph. In the semi-finals, Butner outran three-time World Champion Kevin Helms in another 2011 SRT Dodge Challenger V-10 while Holbrook defeated past National Championship runner-up David Buckner whose Texas-based Evolution Custom Auto-sponsored 6.1-liter Dodge Challenger was the only naturally-aspirated V-8 entry to qualify for the field.
â€œThroughout the race, we were receiving text messages from Jesse Kershaw and Brian Wolfe at Ford Racing,â€ noted Butner during winnerâ€™s circle ceremonies. â€œThey were watching us all weekend and we knew it was really important to the guys in Detroit that we do well in this new series. We made the right tuning decisions and ran as hard as we could. The fans loved it, we loved it and I really think this SuperCar Showdown is going to be big. It was just a great race!”
Kershaw, Fordâ€™s Drag Racing Competition Manager, was equally enthusiastic about his teamâ€™s victory.
â€œBo and Chris are extremely tough racers and both are committed to the Ford brand and its fans,â€ said Kershaw after the event. â€œThey both jumped at the chance to showcase the Cobra Jet Mustang in front of the ADRLâ€™s prime-time audience and Boâ€™s win was a huge accomplishment.
“At Ford, we are truly excited about the SuperCar Showdown and firmly believe it will be a drag racing category which will show continuous growth throughout the year and into the future. The ADRL has given us a venue to race these cars as hard as they can be raced. We know there is plenty of tough competition out there and weâ€™re not taking lightly our involvement but to win the first event with two Fords in the final round was a fantastic accomplishment. It will only get better from here!”
The next event in the 2012 SuperCar Showdown Series will be the American Drag Racing League Spring Drags III to be held at Bristol (TN) Dragway on April 20-21.
(Photos by ADRL/Richards)