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The decisive moment of the Oxford 250 included not only leaders Johnny Clark and Cole Butcher but also Jimmy Hebert on the tail end of the lead lap with eight laps to go.
Hebert slowed right in front of Clark, Butcher couldn’t slow down in time, and the resulting contact sent Clark around. Butcher went on to survive two restarts, including a green-white-checkered to finish, becoming the first winner from Nova Scotia and first Canadian victor since Dave Whitlock in 1995.
Junior Hanley and Derek Lynch won for Canada the two previous years ahead of Whitlock. Don Biederman also won the race as a Canadian in 1977.
"First, I have to apologize to Johnny Clark," Butcher said in Victory Lane. "I had nowhere to go. I have to thank Tom Mayberry for putting on this show too. I've dreamt a long time of being in this victory lane."
Clark door slammed Butcher during the final caution and tapped him from behind during the cool down lap. After climbing out of his car, the 2020 winner took a cool down walk before walking over to Butcher, still in his car and having an exchange of some kind.
"We're down the backstretch, 15 car lengths off the 58 (Hebert) car and he's in the middle of the race track, and I don't know if he doesn't have a spotter or what," Clark said. "Maybe it's his first time making a PASS North start or something or the type of cars we run.
"I don't even know what to say -- eight laps away from winning the Oxford 250 and couldn't give the leaders any courtesy. The 53 (Butcher) smelled blood and ka-boomed me and I went around."
Clark said he was penalized by Mayberry and seemed convinced Butcher should have been for spinning the leader out. As of press time, the only update is that 'fourth place is unofficial.'
"The 53 didn't get penalized for sending the leader right around so I don't know," Clark said. "I just feel like we got robbed. The guys work hard and I'm just in absolute disbelief.
Despite the spin in Turn 4, Clark was able to make a full 360-degree rotation and stayed in the gas before blending back into the field in fourth.
Butcher was able to hold off two-time winner Eddie McDonald and Gabe Brown on the ensuing restarts ahead of a boxed-in Clark..
Meanwhile, it was an adventure for MacDonald to even be in the mix late as he recovered from a flat tire on the opening lap and a spin on Lap 21. And yet, there was the 17MA leading laps and finding a strategy that put him in the podium by the end.
MacDonald led from laps 130 to 180 but says that last set of tires just didn’t react as intended.
"It was unfortunate how our race started," MacDonald said. "But the strategy our guys came up with really worked. That last set of tires just didn't work for us -- we started pushing tight.
"All in all, an awesome cars and awesome job by the whole team."
Like MacDonald, Brown too was victimized by a rash of cautions, going around for a spin on Lap 2 in Turn 2 but persevered and found a way back to the front.
"At the end, when we spent so much time trying to make the top work, we just used it up and didn't have any tire left," Brown said. "Seth and the guys gave me a great car and I just screwed up the start of the race. I put us behind the 8-ball. That was on me.
"We had a winning car and I burned it up trying to get back to the front."
Butcher, the well-traveled Nova Scotian, now adds the Oxford 250 to a list of accomplishments that includes two other Pro All Stars Series wins at Oxford Plains and Petty International. Butcher also competes down south in the marquee Super Late Model races for Donnie Wilson Motorsports.
"It makes me feel great," Butcher said of the feat. "I have a great team behind me with Tyler Tanner, mom, dad and Jerry Babb. My girlfriend Olivia. It's a dream come true to be in Victory Lane here."
The UNOFFICIAL results can be found below.
49th Oxford 250
Oxford Plans Speedway
August 28 2022