Clarksville, Indiana car dealer Bo Butner scored an impressive victory in the inaugural NHRA Factory Stock Showdown at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Butner, NHRA’s 2006 Comp Eliminator Champion and multi-national event winner, defeated Thibadoux, Louisiana racer Brett Candies in the final round. Candies, son of NHRA legend Paul Candies, cut a better light but lost traction as Butner’s Cobra Jet sprinted to the win with a 9.10 et @ 148.84 mph. The NHRA Factory Stock Showdown features heads-up competition between the latest generation of factory-built, Stock Eliminator legal race cars that include Ford’s Mustang Cobra Jet, Mopar’s Drag Pack Challenger, and General Motors’ COPO Camaro. As packed house was on hand to witness Butner’s win as the Factory Stock Showdown finals were contested between Friday night’s professional Funny Car and Top Fuel qualifying sessions.
“This is awesome,” said Butner. “It’s cool to think that I’ll always be known as the guy who won the first one of these [NHRA Factory Showdown] races. I know it wasn’t easy. I haven’t blocked [the Tree] too much lately and as soon as we left, I knew I was dead late. Thankfully, he spun the tires because he left on me by a lot.”
Butner was the odds-on favorite going into the Factory Stock Showdown. Butner and engine builder/teammate Chris Holbrook have been successful this season in the ADRL Supercar Showdown. While the ADRL format is 1/8th mile racing, the heads-up style starts are similar to the NHRA format. Butner had one of the quickest cars in qualifying and was solid in eliminations with his wheelstanding 2010 Mustang Cobra Jet. In the opening round, Butner posted a 9.04 e.t. after P.B. Candies triggered the red-light. A round later, Butner drove to a 9.07 e.t. on his bye run before defeating his engine-builder Chris Holbrook on a holeshot, 9.059 to 9.055, in the semifinals.
“Obviously that round could have gone either way, but I ran just quick enough to win,” said Butner. “This car leaves super-hard and it’s a lot of fun to drive. It’s not at all like a traditional Stocker. This class is so new and the rules are a little different than what we’re used to. I wasn’t sure just how fast we’d be able to run here but 9.0s are pretty good. I was very surprised.”
Factory Stock Showdown runner-up Brett Candies is the son of former world championship winning Top Fuel and Funny Car team owner and Hall of Famer Paul Candies. He reached the final round after racing Skillman Performance Ford dealer Bill Skillman in the quarterfinals and then earning a bye in the semi’s. “I knew I had him off the starting line but I spun the tires really hard,” said Candies. “The car hasn’t done that all weekend. We knew going in that we were going to have our hands full. Our car is pretty new and Bo has been racing his all year and he’s put in a lot of hard work. He’s been the best all year in this type of racing and he deserves it. This is one of the reasons why our family got back into racing,” added Candies. “We have a great relationship with Ford and we’re behind this deal 100 percent. This class is new and it’s going to take some time to get all the rules right, but it’s got a lot of potential.”
Reminiscent of the factory muscle car battles of the 1960s, the inaugural NHRA Factory Stock Showdown featured a nine car field that included eight 2.3L Supercharged Cobra Jet Mustangs and a lone V-10 powered DragPak Challenger driven by Kevin Helms of Southland Dodge.
“This is something that we’ve needed out here for a long time,” said Butner. “I’ve been a sportsman racer for a long time but this is the first time that we’ve gotten so much attention from the new car manufacturers. They all love this class and want to see it grow. I feel like this weekend was the start of something really big and I’m happy to be a part of it.”