Bo Butner is quickly becoming the most dominant driver in the American Drag Racing League’s incredible new SuperCar Showdown category but his victory at the ADRL’s Summer Drags VIII at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, proved he is ahead of his closest rivals by only the slimmest of margins.
The SuperCar Showdown, which showcases unmodified current production automobiles in the exact trim in which they are delivered to dealerships, crowned three different champions in its first five events. However, the 2012 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet campaigned by the Jim Butner Auto Sales team had been either the winner or the runner-up at every race.
To earn his fourth eliminator championship in six completed events, the past World Champion from Floyds Knobs, Indiana, had to survive a challenge he issued to SuperCar Showdown National Record Holder Drew Skillman. The most anticipated match of the new division’s first season came in the title bout and the battle which ensued was the closest drag race yet seen in SuperCar Showdown eliminations.
The two Hoosier competitors, competing in nearly identical white 2012 supercharged Ford Cobra Jet Mustangs, had only met in one race prior to the Michigan meet. At the ADRL Spring Drags IIII in Bristol, Tennessee, Butner barely defeated Drew Skillman in the semi-final round. The thrilling battle featured only one hundredth of a second difference in elapsed time for the eighth-mile distance, 5.86 seconds to 5.87 seconds, and Butner went on to defeat Drew’s grandfather, Ray, in the final round. It was the next event, the Gateway Drags IV near St. Louis, which began the rivalry.
“When I wasn’t able to attend the ADRL race in St. Louis, Drew won the event and set the record”, recalled Butner. “I told the press I was comin’ for him at the next race at Richmond but Drew wasn’t able to make it to that event and I won. I made sure Drew knew I was still gunnin’ for him and, when he showed up here at Martin, I knew the race between us was probably going to happen”.
Like a well-scripted play, the shootout between the two found Butner leading the qualified field with Skillman only a few hundredths of a second behind in second place. When eliminations began, Butner clocked a career-best 5.78 seconds at 119.56 miles per hour in the opening round and then stopped Wes Wells’ spectacular public debut of the Ford Motor Company’s new 2013 Super Cobra Jet Mustang with a 5.80/119.00 effort. Skillman, meanwhile, defeated the new 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet of Rick Rodgers with a 5.80/118.37 and then topped Jimmy Ronzello’s crowd-pleasing manually-shifted convertible 2012 Mustang Cobra Jet with a 5.83/117.76.
The fact Butner held a slight performance advantage was not lost on twenty-four year-old Skillman. Prior to the final round, he admitted he would need a reaction time “holeshot” to beat the year’s winningest driver to the finish line. When the two supercharged 5.4-liter monsters staged up in the best atmospheric conditions of the event to determine a winner, Skillman did, indeed, launch first from the starting line…but by only one hundredth of a second.
Butner’s slight horsepower advantage came to bear and, half-way through the eighth-mile, Bo pulled alongside Drew to gain a miniscule lead of eleven thousandths of a second, (19.56 inches). The two remained side-by-side until Butner pulled slightly farther ahead to cross the finish line a mere seventeen thousandths of a second, (3.07 feet), ahead of Skillman In the most thrilling duel yet staged in the brief history of the ADRL SuperCar Showdown. Moreover, Butner clocked a best-ever 5.779 seconds at 119.00 miles per hour to barely cover Skillman’s 5.806 at 118.57 mph.
“Everybody was cheering and yelling about it being the closest race in SuperCar Showdown history”, said Butner in post-race interviews, “but I can promise you it was even closer than they thought from inside the car. Drew was right alongside me the whole way. I don’t think either one of us was really sure who won until the win light came on in my lane! That was just a heck of a drag race. I don’t think anybody really ever thought this new class would produce racing quite that close”.
Skillman admitted the same uncertainty, adding, “It seemed like both cars were just stuck together all the way down the track. I couldn’t tell if I was ahead or behind. The fans got their money‘s worth for the whole event in that one race alone!”.
For Butner, the victory became huge if only because the team maintained the season’s unbroken winning streak for the Ford Motor Company in its home state. “Jesse Kershaw of Ford Racing was here this weekend and it just made it so much more important to win it for the Ford guys who build these cars. Since we‘re not allowed to modify these Mustangs after they leave the factory, we’re constantly aware of the incredible designing and engineering which goes into the building of these cars at Ford. We considered it a major goal to win the SuperCar Showdown title at this race if only to show the Ford fans just how amazing these cars really are“.
For Skillman, however, the runner-up finish only signaled the beginning of what may be the division‘s first serious rivalry. Noted Drew, “Just based on that final round, I think this battle between me and Bo is going to continue all year long. He may have gotten the win but he still doesn‘t have the elapsed time or speed record. We still have a lot of racing left this season. We‘re going to do everything we can to get our revenge“.
The next event on the 2012 American Drag Racing League tour will be DragStock IX to be held at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, on August 3-4.