Bo Butner and Ford Racing Performance Parts laid claim to the first trophy in the American Drag Racing League's (ADRL) highly anticipated new SuperCar Showdown division at season-opening CarSafe Automotive Repair Protection Dragpalooza VIII held at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Moreover, an all-Ford Mustang championship round pitting the top two qualifiers made for a clean sweep by Ford in the first drag racing category to feature the world's quickest and fastest production automobiles in national competition.
A veteran of more than two decades of competition, Butner met teammate Chris Holbrook in the final round of eliminations, with each veteran campaigner piloting a supercharged 2012 Ford Cobra Jet Mustang. Butner gained a large reaction time advantage and thundered to an eighth-mile clocking of 5.86 seconds, reaching a top speed of 119.46 mph.
"It's a huge honor to win the first race in the history of any series," said an elated Butner, only seconds after the victory. "But it's an even bigger thrill to win it for the Ford Motor Company and Ford Racing. My Cobra Jet ran nearly perfectly all weekend and we proved to the world the incredible power in these showroom monsters!"
The SuperCar Showdown features open competition among production vehicles from all automobile manufacturers worldwide with engines, chassis and even tires remaining in factory trim. While speculation ran wild concerning the potential performance of the machinery in the new class, even Holbrook and Butner were surprised with the elapsed times and speeds unleashed by the Mustangs.
It was Holbrook, a past Pro Stock World Champion, who stunned fans and competitors by securing the top qualifying position in his Michigan-based Cobra Jet with a phenomenal blast of 5.75 seconds, and an equally amazing speed of 120.21 mph. "I honestly didn't think it would run that fast", noted a shocked Holbrook. In the first round of eliminations, Holbrook's Varsity Ford-sponsored Mustang recorded a 5.76-second run at an even faster 120.33 mph.
For Butner, earning the second qualifying position was a major goal accomplished only on his third and final effort. "I knew this new class would be tough after the very first run down the track", said Butner, "and it made us realize this was going to be a very serious battle among the different brands". Racing against Joe Teuton's Southland Dodge-sponsored 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT Drag Pak powered by an 8.4-liter naturally-aspirated V-10 engine in the very first official side-by-side qualifying race, Butner's supercharged 5.4-liter Ford found itself on the losing end of a near dead heat with only thirteen thousandths of a second, (2.27 feet), separating the two machines at the finish line. On his final effort, however, Butner clocked a 5.83/119.40 to slip past Teuton's best of 5.88/118.74 to earn a one-two finish for Ford in the final qualifying standings.
Former drag racing World Champion Butner, who operates his family's half-century old auto sales company in Clarksville, Indiana, displayed astonishing consistency during actual competition. In three rounds of eliminations, his Mustang ran between 5.83 and 5.86 seconds and each winning effort was clocked at over 119 mph. In the semi-finals, Butner outran three-time World Champion Kevin Helms in another 2011 SRT Dodge Challenger V-10 while Holbrook defeated past National Championship runner-up David Buckner whose Texas-based Evolution Custom Auto-sponsored 6.1-liter Dodge Challenger was the only naturally aspirated V-8 entry to qualify for the field.
"Throughout the race, we were receiving text messages from Jesse Kershaw and Brian Wolfe at Ford Racing," noted Butner during winner's circle ceremonies. "They were watching us all weekend and we knew it was really important to the guys in Detroit that we do well in this new series. We made the right tuning decisions and ran as hard as we could. The fans loved it, we loved it and I really think this SuperCar Showdown is going to be big. It was just a great race!'
Kershaw, Ford's Drag Racing Competition Manager, was equally enthusiastic about his team's victory. "Bo and Chris are extremely tough racers and both are committed to the Ford brand and its fans," said Kershaw after the event. "They both jumped at the chance to showcase the Cobra Jet Mustang in front of the ADRL's prime-time audience and Bo's win was a huge accomplishment. At Ford, we are truly excited about the SuperCar Showdown and firmly believe it will be a drag racing category which will show continuous growth throughout the year and into the future. The ADRL has given us a venue to race these cars as hard as they can be raced. We know there is plenty of tough competition out there and we're not taking lightly our involvement but to win the first event with two Fords in the final round was a fantastic accomplishment. It will only get better from here!"
The next event in the 2012 SuperCar Showdown Series will be the American Drag Racing League Spring Drags III to be held at Bristol (TN) Dragway on April 20-21. For more information, log on to ADRL.us.