COMMERCE, GA – May 3, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – It took more than two years and eight final round appearances before Bo Butner grabbed his first career Pro Stock win two weeks ago in Houston. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory provided relief for Butner, but it also gave the 15-time NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman winner added confidence in a class loaded with talent.
Currently second in points driving his Jim Butner Auto Chevrolet Camaro, Butner wants to keep his strong start going at this weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Winning his first Pro Stock event has also made him even hungrier to taste that winner’s circle success again.
“I was wondering if I was every going to win again in anything,” Butner said. “It was tough, but it was huge for me and my team. The guys never gave up on me and it was good for everybody. You get that first one done and that worry is over. Every time we leave the house we want to win. Atlanta is a big race with a big crowd and we’re looking forward to it, but we now that we have that win out of the way we just want to continue to go rounds and stay up there in points.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 7. It marks the seventh of 24 events in a year that has seen a different winner in Pro Stock at the first six events.
Butner’s KB Racing teammates, defending world champ Jason Line and points leader Greg Anderson, each have one, while other winners include Shane Gray, his son, rookie Tanner Gray, and Chris McGaha, who won last weekend in Charlotte. It’s a far cry from last season when Line and Anderson combined to win 16 races, with the rest of the class making big strides this off-season. It also showed Butner that parity will be evident the rest of the year.
“I promise you this, you cannot pick a winner for Atlanta because anybody in the top 12 or so can win at any given time,” said Butner, who had three No. 1 qualifiers in 2016. “The gap (from last year) is definitely gone. I don’t think you’ll ever see a gap like we had last year. When it’s this close, it’s a victory just to get a round win, and to sling a couple rounds together is huge. Unless something crazy happens, I think it’s going to be close the rest of the way.”
That makes the victories that much more rewarding, even if they are difficult to come by. Despite a first-round loss in Charlotte last weekend, Butner remains confident in the season his team is putting together. He has qualified second twice and has earned a number of bonus points during qualifying, with that consistency solidifying his spot at the top of the Pro Stock standings. Maintaining that qualifying success and consistency will continue to be the focus for Butner.
“I’m just trying to stay calm and not overthink things,” Butner said. “In this class, you can definitely think yourself right out of everything. This year has started off great and, in my opinion, I’m with the best team. We expect one of us to be in the final every race. Charlotte was a tough deal last weekend, but we’re fortunate to still be second in points.”
Kalitta’s third Atlanta win in Top Fuel came last year, but back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, and three-time 2017 winner and points leader Leah Pritchett pose stiff challenges.
Defending Funny Car event winner Hagan had two victories to start 2017, but he’s chasing points leader and reigning world champ Ron Capps, who has won two straight races.
Krawiec has Atlanta Pro Stock Motorcycle victories two of the past three years, but he’ll have to get past Andrew Hines, defending world champ Jerry Savoie and four-time winner Angelle Sampey.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its fourth of 12 stops in 2017 at Atlanta Dragway. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System, and Douthit Motorsports Black Pearl Nostalgia Jet Funny Car. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:15 and 7:10 p.m. on Friday, May 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 6, at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 7.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
WHAT: 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. – I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take a left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 5-7
FRIDAY, May 5 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 6 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:45 p.m. and Round 1 of eliminations at 3:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 7 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:00 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations 12:45 p.m.
Friday, May 5, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, May 6, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 7, FS1 will televise three hours of elimination highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 4, TF; Larry Dixon 4; Doug Kalitta 4; John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Dave Schultz 8 PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.731 sec. by Doug Kalitta, May ’16; 328.86 mph by Kalitta, May ‘14.
Funny Car – 3.906 sec. by Matt Hagan, May. ’16; 329.02 mph by Hagan, May. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.493 sec. by Erica Enders, March ‘14; 213.00 mph by Jason Line, March ‘14.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 197.54 mph by Eddie Krawiec., May ‘14.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ‘17, Phoenix; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 884-6472. Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association