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The Sports Report: Winning Indy was so nice, Bo did it twice

Bo Butner accomplished a rare feat when he successfully defended his 2022 Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals Super Gas title
07 Sep 2023
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
Bo Butner

Winning the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals ranks as one of the most difficult feats in drag racing, particularly for a Lucas Oil Series Sportsman competitor. Huge fields coupled with six grueling days of competition conspire to test even the most experienced racer, which helps explain why Indy wins are so treasured, and multiple wins are so rare.

None of that seemed to affect Bo Butner, who added another title to his seemingly endless list of achievements when he won back-to-back Indy Super Gas titles in his Corvette roadster. The win was No. 30 for Butner, who was typically unfazed by it’s importance.

“I should be excited about that number, but I’m 49 – that’s not even one a year,” said Butner, following his 63rd national event final. “But 30 is a great number, and just to be able to come out and do this so much, I’ve been blessed.”

With his hectic schedule that includes a full roster of Pro Stock races with his Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Camaro, Butner doesn’t get many opportunities to compete in sportsman events, his first love. In fact, Butner’s only other NHRA race in the Corvette this season was the Division 3 event in Bowling Green, and that resulted in round one loss. Regardless, Butner arrived at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park full of optimism as he faced a Super Gas field of more than 100 entries.

Butner set the tone in round one with a solid .005 light and a 9.930 to stop Johnny Cobb and he followed a day later with a 9.914 to stop Paul Richardson, who made it close with a .006 light. Another day, another round as Butner used a .004/9.944 package to stop Ryan Locke, the son of current world champion Bob Locke.

Few people win Indy without facing adversity and Butner got a full plate of it on Sunday morning when he woke up to a pair of dead batteries just prior to his race against Tim Lynch.

“Both batteries just decided to die, so I had no power right before I was getting ready to warm up,” said Butner. “There was a little bit of panic mode, but we stopped and checked all the wiring, and the only thing we could do was put some new batteries in it. We did that, but the problem is that they weigh 40 pounds more each. So, we had to throw 80 pounds in it, and I had to make sure we could go fast enough. We were lucky; I made a good guess.”

Unsure of his set-up, Butner improvised and won with a.009 light and a 9.953 to oust Lynch’s .013 and 9.955.

By round five, the Indy pits have begun to empty and the realization that an Indy title is within reach tends to hit most racers. Some ignore the pressure and some don’t. Butner clearly falls into the former group as he remained solid with a .011 light and a 9.902 to defeat quarterfinal opponent Jesse Fritts. Butner made it to Monday’s final round thanks to a red-light by opponent Gene Brown, but he would have been tough regardless with a .009 start.

When it comes to Indy finals, Butner has seen both sides of the coin. He’s been a runner up in Comp in 2004, and in Pro Mod in 2020, before winning last season’s Super Gas title. Butner gave up a .002 to .021 lead in the final but rallied against George Meyer to win 9.948 to 9.987.

With the win, Butner became the first driver to go-back-to-back in Super Gas at Indy, and he was also the last guy to win back-to-back events, taking the title in Indy and Reading last season.

“I am very, very happy – but you know me, in the back of my mind, I’m still upset about the first round in the Pro Stock car,” said Butner, of his round one loss to Fernando Cuadra Jr. “I’m very fortunate to do something like this. I do not know what it is about this car – it’s just such a good combination, but we actually changed the combination and it still won. To redo the car and for it to come out and be as good as it was before, I’m very happy. This car had won a lot before I ever sat in it, but a good car is a good car.

“It helps to have great people behind you, like [wife] Randi Lyn, everyone at Jim Butner Auto Group, Gage Green was helping us out here, and of course Summit Racing, Mickey Thompson, and Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. Hopefully, there are more wins coming.”