What a difference a year can make.

Coming into the Winternationals in 2017, Bo Butner had still never won a race and wondered just what it would take to finally get over that hump.

One year later, Butner is the defending Pro Stock world champion with five wins under his belt.

No, make that six wins.

Butner picked right up where he left off in 2017, where he won the season finale at Pomona to clinch the Pro Stock championship, with a second-straight Pomona victory, defeating teammate Jason Line in the final to win the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway.

“We’ve all grown and come a long way since then,” said Butner, who earned his sixth win in the last 21 races. “It definitely wasn’t my car's fault or my crew (that we hadn’t won), but they are clicking off now. If I was a surfer, I’d be riding a good wave. But those KB guys, what can you say? They are the best at what they do.”

Butner drove his Butner Auto 2018 Chevrolet Camaro through a gauntlet of seasoned vets ending with a matchup against KB Racing teammate Jason Line in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro in the season’s first Pro Stock final. In that matchup, Butner got away first and never trailed, crossing the stripe with a 6.549-second pass at 209.62 mph. Line, in his 96th career Pro Stock final, finished with a 6.568 at 209.59 mph.

“We actually put a bandaid on a little motor issue I had and I even thought I might not even try to go up there (for the final). We all talked about it and they said go for it and it worked out for us,” Butner said. “We actually made our best run of the weekend. That says a lot for those guys. It is a shame only one of us can turn a win light on. But, again, I have to run them. Today I had to run two of them and they race fair. There is no lay down.”

Butner added wins over Erica Enders, Greg Anderson and Tanner Gray to reach his 12th career final, posting lights of .004, .031, .001 and .015 to help move him through the ladder.

“I don’t know what the difference in me is. I’m getting older,” Butner said with a laugh. “I went to a practice tree race that was held in Evansville about a month ago and I actually got to the final and I thought, I can hit the tree consistent. Right now it is just clicking and I feel great with the car and I have all of the confidence in our crew.”

Line added wins over Kenny Delco, Alex Laughlin and Deric Kramer as a new-look KB Racing team held three of the four spots in the semifinal round. With the addition of Kramer to the team already consisting of Butner, Line and Anderson, Butner feels it is only a matter of time before KB Racing sweeps the semifinal ladder.

“You will see a race where all four of us are up there, but it can all change tomorrow,” Butner said. “These guys are pros. For Deric, that is great to see. That’s probably as many rounds as he has won in a long time. He drove well and he’s going to be tough. With Deric we now have four awesome 2018 Camaros and we put that in perspective - if a win light comes on, it’s a win for Chevy, for Summit and for all of us.”

It is hard to believe how far Butner has come from a year ago, but now Butner begins the 2018 season with all of the momentum as he looks to build on back-to-back Pomona wins with, potentially, back-to-back championships.

“We have to go back and get to work. But that is eight rounds in a row for us here,” Butner said. “Pomona has always been good to me. I’ve been fortunate to go a lot of rounds here, but haven’t won this race. It was a cool atmosphere. It didn’t feel like the season had started, but once the rounds started clicking, we got in a groove.”