(Photos courtesy NHRA)

2016 NHRA season in review: Pro Stock driver Bo Butner

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MotorSportsTalk continues our season-ending reviews of the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

From Dec. 12 through Jan. 4, we’ll feature one daily in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as a compendium of select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.

The list of drivers we’ve already posted is below. Today, we feature Pro Stock driver Bo Butner:



Driver: Bo Butner

Age: 42

Hometown: Floyds Knobs, Indiana

Team: Bo Butner Racing

Sponsor/car: Butner Auto Sales Chevrolet Camaro

Crew chief: Darrel Herron

2016 season finish: Fourth in Pro Stock

2016 season statistics: 24 races, 0 wins, 5 runner-up, 5 semifinals, 8 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 3 times. Round-by-round record: 32 wins, 24 losses.

Career statistics: 41 races, 0 wins, 6 runner-up, 7 semifinals, 14 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 3 times. Round-by-round record: 45 wins, 41 losses. 0 DNQ. Also recorded 15 wins and 12 runner-up finishes during Sportsman racing career.

What went right in 2016: Butner had an outstanding sophomore season in Pro Stock, finishing higher (fourth) in the overall standings than numerous veteran drivers including Allen Johnson (8th), two-time champ Erica Enders (9th) and five-time champ Jeg Coughlin (10th). … While he has yet to win his first Pro Stock race, he reached the final round in nearly one-fourth of the races (five) of the 2016 season. … Qualified for his first six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff.

What went wrong in 2016: Butner was dramatically better in 2016 than his rookie season in 2015 (finished 12th). But he still made mistakes that proved costly. He suffered six first-round losses, including three in a row (Englishtown, Bristol and Norwalk). … Struggled during the Countdown with one first-round exit and three quarterfinal losses.

What to look for in 2017: Butner had a breakout season in 2016; he’s on target for a breakthrough season in 2017, with the potential of competing for the championship. He’s used to winning (15 victories in the Sportsman ranks); when he notches his first triumph in Pro Stock, that could be all he needs to give him and his team the confidence to become champions. Given what he achieved in 2016 without winning a race, the best is still yet to come for Butner. When he finally does earn his first win, it’s likely going to be the first of several in the same season.

Season reviews already posted:

— Antron Brown (12/12)

— Ron Capps (12/13)

— Jason Line (12/14)

Jerry Savoie (12/15)

Doug Kalitta (12/16)

Tommy Johnson Jr. (12/17)

Greg Anderson (12/18)

Eddie Krawiec (12/19)

Steve Torrence (12/20)

— Matt Hagan (12/21)

— Shane Gray (12/22)

— Andrew Hines (12/23)

— J.R. Todd (12/24)

— John Force (12/25)

— Bo Butner (12/26)

— Angelle Sampey (12/27)

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.