NHRA Pro Stock driver Bo Butner joining Pro Stock exodus
The lure of three other drag-racing classes has intrigued reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Bo Butner.
The one-time Competition Eliminator champion and multi-time division champion officially announced Saturday he will not return to the Pro Stock class next season.
His decision brings the list of defectors from the class to four. Points leader Tanner Gray, 19, is trying to secure the Pro Stock championship before he departs for NASCAR K&N Series competition. Drew Skillman, the 2015 NHRA rookie of the year, plans to return to the sportsman level in 2019. John Gaydosh has dropped out, frustrated because he said the lack of TV coverage for the Pro Stock class on Fox Sports made it nearly impossible to attract sponsors.
Butner has committed to race a Cobra Jet Mustang for the full schedule of the SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown. That’s the increasingly popular series featuring heads-up competition between factory-built Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Dodge Challenger Drag Paks, and Ford Cobra Jets. Racers vie for points, national-event victories, and a championship.
The Floyds Knobs, Ind., car dealer said he might try the demanding, merciless world of Pro Modified. He earned his Pro Mod license earlier this season in Harry Hruska's turbocharged Chevy Camaro.
He’ll turn to Chevy again, with the Cobalt he drove to the 2006 Comp Eliminator championship, when he tests the no prep drag racing scene. That style of drag racing evolved from street-racing roots.
"My no prep car is being put together as we speak, and I'm going to try that and see if I like it," Butner said.
He announced his decision during the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he qualified seventh and will meet No. 10 Alex Laughlin in Sunday eliminations.
"There are a whole lot of options now, and I won't have to race – I can race when I want to race,” Butner said.” I'm probably stepping away from Pro Stock for at least a year,” he said, “because I have a lot of life-changing things happening. I'm going to be a grandpa in April, and I've put off a lot of family stuff for the last four seasons. I want to get back to that, plus, our business is growing, and I need to be there for that."
He said, "I'm still feeling the 'wow factor' after winning a Pro Stock championship. I'm still living in that. I'm a sportsman racer, and after working your way up the ranks and racing in every class in the world, it's really awesome to hit your goal. That's one of the key reasons I'm ready for something else. We achieved the goal. What's next?"
Butner earned 21 national-event victories in a total of five categories. But he insisted that he still loves Pro Stock and his KB / Summit Racing team.
"If I come back to Pro Stock, it will only be with KB Racing, no other team," he said. "I couldn't be paid to go race somewhere else. I'm loyal to these guys because they've been very loyal to me, especially the team owners Ken and Judy Black. When I discussed this with them, they told me that I'd always have a home here. That makes me feel really good."
During his time with KB Racing, Butner has won six times in 19 final-round appearances and has led the field eight times.
"I don't want to hurt Pro Stock, and I hope it grows even bigger. And I want everyone to know that I'm not going away," he said. "I'm amazed by the support that we've had and the following that has grown. It's unlike anything I'm used to, but it's great. These are the best fans in the world. Pro Stock is a Stock and Super Stock Sportsman racer's dream. It's the ultimate class to race and absolutely the toughest to turn on a win light. Day One, Jason [Line] told me that, and I thought, 'No, I got this.' But he was 100-percent correct. It's hard to win, and you feel great just to win a round."