It was no easy task but Bo Butner scored his third event victory in the American Drag Racing Leagueâ€™s spectacular new SuperCar Showdown category. His road to the winnerâ€™s circle at the ADRLâ€™s U.S. Drags V at Virginia Motorsports Park was the most grueling yet for the past World Champion in his quest to keep the Ford Motor Company undefeated in the 2012 SuperCar Showdown series.
Holding the winnerâ€™s trophy at the end of the race was an unlikely prospect for the Floyds Knobs, Indiana veteran in a weekend which included a broken trailer rig, oppressive heat, destroyed parts and an unintentional new wheelstand altitude record over the course of three days.
â€œIâ€™ve had tough races but this one takes it,â€ admitted Butner during post-race interviews. â€œWeâ€™ve been through the wringer at this one and itâ€™s pretty hard to believe we pulled it off. Itâ€™s important for Ford, for me and for our fans to win and thereâ€™s a lot of pressure to make sure Ford is undefeated in this series but we sure worked for this one.â€
Butnerâ€™s weekend began when his tractor rig broke down en route to the event forcing him to load his supercharged 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet into a one-car pull-along trailer hooked to a Ford F-350 pickup truck. Upon arriving at the track, Butner immediately began preparing the car to debut a radical new rearend gear ratio which he felt would move his Mustang to the performance level of the most recent winner on the tour, Drew Skillman, whose Cobra Jet set new SCS World Records at 5.70 seconds and 121.01 miles per hour for the eighth-mile distance. The forecasted high of 101 degrees during the first dayâ€™s qualifying rounds made certain conditions would be tricky at best.
On his very first qualifying attempt, Butnerâ€™s Mustang barely turned a tire when the new gear disintegrated on its first launch. As the ADRL safety crew pushed the white Mustang off the starting line, Butner knew he needed to revise his plan of attack. As he began a new strategy which would call for new equipment, Butner quipped, â€œWho wouldâ€™ve thought with a track temperature of 130 degrees the starting line wouldâ€™ve had enough traction to do this kind of damage?”
Butner and his crew thrashed to install a different ratio rear gear and an equally unfamiliar first-gear ratio in the Cobra Jetâ€™s automatic transmission. They finished installing the new parts just before the second qualifying session. Thatâ€™s when the rains came.
The ADRL revised its schedule for a rare early morning qualifying session the next day and Butner tested his new gear ratio theory. Paired with friend and past SCS winner Chris Holbrookâ€™s silver Varsity Ford-sponsored Mustang from Michigan, the Butnerâ€™s Auto Sales Cobra Jet launched into a skyscraping wheelstand which exceeded even the astonishing bumper-scraping start achieved by Holbrook at the most recent event in St. Louis. Incredibly, Butner drove the car in perfect fashion and brought the car down softly enough to avoid suspension or chassis damage.
After adding weight to the nose of his Ford to compensate for the violence of the new gear ratios, Butnerâ€™s final qualifying effort was stymied by a track temperature over 135 degrees which caused him to lose traction and landed Butner in his worst qualifying position of the season far behind Holbrookâ€™s strong top qualifying run of 5.82 seconds at 119.12 miles per hour.
Through eliminations, Butner still struggled with a loss of traction but, by his semi-final match with Jimmy Ronzelloâ€™s crowd favorite black-on-black manually shifted Cobra Jet convertible, the winner of the first two SuperCar Showdown events was able to effectively apply his new combination. Although Ronzello had superior starting line reactions, Butner thundered to the quickest run of the event, 5.80 seconds, to defeat the Michigander and move to the final round against Holbrook.
In the championship bout, Butner gained a measure of revenge for his loss to Holbrook at the ADRL Northeast Drags in Reading, Pennsylvania, by leaving the starting line first and clocking a career-best 5.79/118.87 to Holbrookâ€™s close 5.87/119.94 effort. Butnerâ€™s win was made sweeter by claiming the $1,000 bonus posted by John Meaneyâ€™s Big Stuff 3 Fuel Injection Systems company, which also handed a $250 qualifying award to Holbrook.
â€œPeople donâ€™t realize what a fine line we walk by racing these cars,â€ noted Butner after his third victory of the season. â€œThe ADRL mandates these cars remain exactly as they are delivered at the dealership. Weâ€™re trying to put over eight hundred horsepower to the ground through the nine inch-wide rear tires delivered on these cars and, in some ways, these cars are more difficult to drive than many of the faster classes of ADRL competition. Itâ€™s a tough proposition. Sometimes itâ€™s almost impossible and other times, like on that giant wheelstanding run, it works TOO well!â€
â€œIâ€™ll say this, though,â€ continued Butner, â€œthe ADRLâ€™s track preparation is the best in the sport. They give us the best racing surface anywhere. The ADRLâ€™s fans absolutely love this SuperCar Showdown class; theyâ€™re constantly swarming around us in the pits and want to know everything about these Mustangs. They constantly ask us when weâ€™re going to run our next round. The fans just canâ€™t get enough of these cars!
â€œIâ€™m just glad we could win another race for Fordâ€™s Jesse Kershaw to keep their streak alive. It was great to win the biggest purse in the series so far with the bonus money put up by Big Stuff Fuel Injection. We use their parts and I guess Chris (Holbrook, runner-up) and I proved John Meaneyâ€™s stuff works!â€
The next event on the 2012 American Drag Racing League tour will be the Summer Drags VIII to be held at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, on July 13-14.