(Oxford) It wasn’t at the “Let’s go, Brandon” level but it was in the neighborhood.
The 49th annual Oxford 250 ended, and the boos descended.
The subject of the OPS spectators’ attention was young Cole Butcher who had just won the Oxford 250 on Sunday night.
As one of the regulars on the OPS track told me, “The winner should be proud of winning but not of how he won it.”
Most of the unhappiness was centered around an incident with eight laps left.
Crowd favorite, and former 250 winner, Johnny Clark had the lead with Cole Butcher close behind. Johnny came up on a lapped car driven by Jimmy Hebert and slowed down to avoid hitting Jimmy.
Cole did not slow down and got into the back of Johnny’s car enough to start him spinning toward the infield. With Johnny suddenly out of control, Cole, Gabe Brown, and Eddie MacDonald went past him.
Johnny settled back to 4th and that was where he finished.
Johnny took out his frustration on Cole after the race. Cole parked on Victory Lane, but Johnny drove into Cole’s car and moved him off Victory Lane.
Things didn’t progress to the next level but there were plenty of angry words tossed around.
Interviewed afterwards Cole said, “I had nowhere to go. I didn’t want that to happen, that’s not how I race.”
Cole, from Hantsport, Nova Scotia, has raced multiple times at Oxford. It will be interesting to see how his next visit goes.
That ending “stuff” spoiled what was a great night of racing. There was a great crowd and plenty of action to get excited about.
There were nineteen cautions and what is more exciting than a restart?
How about a caution with only two laps left??
That’s what we had last night. That final restart gave Gabe Brown and Eddie MacDonald a chance to move by Cole Butcher, but they couldn’t do it.
“I knew that we didn’t have anything for the lead,” explained Eddie MacDonald (second) afterwards. “That 53 was fast. Whoever had the outside was going to end up third.”
“I was sideways the whole time around,” recalled Gabe Brown (third). “I just had to get to the bottom as soon as I could.”
While the two challengers struggled, Cole had what was needed for the victory.
The beauty of the longer race was that drivers had the time to recover from early problems. Eddie MacDonald pitted early because of a flat tire while Gabe Brown went into position-losing spins twice in the first twenty laps.
Both drivers rallied to get back on the lead lap and went from there to top three finishes.
Despite all the cautions and collisions there were no medical situations.
There were several damaged cars that were brought back to life thanks to some great pit-crew work.
Max Cookson was the 19-year-old in the field. Max said that his crew was “unbelievable” and “it was awesome to be out there in such a big race.” Max took the lead on Lap 81.
The restarts are treacherous for the leader because all of their competition is suddenly close by.
However, when there aren’t restarts the leader must deal with lapped cars. Where is the lapped car supposed to go? On a track as slick as OPS has been, moving up the track is a slide waiting to happen.
In the Clark/Butcher collision on Lap 242, the lap car was on the bottom. There was room for Johnny Clark to go around the lapped car, but he closed so fast on the lapped car (which was going slower than he had expected) that he had to slow up. Cole Butcher wasn’t ready for the slow down and went into the Clark car full speed causing it to spin.
There was plenty of sunshine, but the shade was welcomed as the race got underway.
It was good to see so many spectators at OPS. In most of the regular weekly races there often seem to be more folks in the pit grandstand than across the way.
Thanks to the Mayberry’s for allowing me to check out the racing action.