For Cole Butcher, Saturday evening was a long time in the making.
The young racer from the Canadian Maritimes earned his first Pro All Stars Series North Super Late Model victory in the United States, charging back from mechanical misfortune to win the Spencer Group Paving PASS 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
It was a victory Butcher had chased since 2015, but with precious little to show for it.
And for a while on Saturday, that trend seemed likely to continue.
Butcher’s team changed engines early in the day after finding a minor issue. The backup engine failed in practice, though, forcing the team to revert to the original powerplant for the rest of the afternoon. The engine proved itself in heat races, with Butcher holding off Johnny Clark to win the third qualifying race.
The driver from Porters Lake, Nova Scotia rolled off third for the feature behind polesitter Evan Hallstrom, hoping everything would hold together under the hood. Clark slipped past Butcher in the early laps, but Butcher got back around the seven-time PASS North champ to reassert himself out front.
In the end, though, it was Butcher taking the checkered flag nearly three seconds ahead of Clark, who nursed brake problems to come home second.
Thompson Speedway winner DJ Shaw had his hands full with Curtis Gerry in the closing circuits, but held off the former Oxford Super Late Model weekly champion to finish third. Gerry, who has nine PASS wins at Oxford since 2017, held on for fourth.
Brandon Barker, the runner-up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in April, was fifth.
Trevor Sanborn crossed the line sixth, ahead of Gabe Brown, who was seventh in his first Oxford start since 2020. Oxford weekly points leader Kyle DeSouza was eighth, with Eddie MacDonald and two-time Oxford track champion Dave Farrington, Jr. rounding out the top ten.
Forty-two PASS Super Late Models were on hand for the fourth race of the season, with Oxford’s healthy weekly program contributing heavily to the roster. With the big field, some of the touring regulars’ struggles were amplified in the running order. Early-season surprise Garrett Hall was 16th, while Joey Polewarczyk finished a lap back in 18th. Championship runner-up Dan Winter was 26th, while multi-time champion Ben Rowe could do no better than 27th.
Reigning PASS Modified champion Max Cookson, already a weekly winner in Oxford’s Super Late Model division, made his PASS North debut Saturday, finishing 11th in his first race longer than 75 laps.
Two drivers in the top ten in points, sophomore Jake Matheson and NHMS winner Austin MacDonald, were not in attendance, juggling the unofficial standings as the season-long championship battle takes shape.
Before MacDonald’s win in April, Butcher had been the last Canadian driver to visit a PASS victory lane. Butcher’s win came in 2018 at Petty International Raceway in New Brunswick, holding off visitors Ben Rowe and Derek Griffith in a race postponed one day by rain. PASS has not run a race on Canadian soil since then.
But Butcher, a two-time East Coast International Pro Stock Tour champion in the Maritimes, has been testing his talent across the border since 2015. Butcher attempted two PASS races at Oxford in 2015, qualifying for one and finishing 17th. Twelve of his fourteen PASS North starts have come at Oxford, with a focus on preparation for the Oxford 250.
Along the way, Butcher found some success, finishing second to Reid Lanpher in 2017 and fourth in a 2019 start. Butcher was sixth in the 2019 Oxford 250, his best result in four starts in the historic Super Late Model event.
With the international borders locked down for non-essential travel, Butcher was unable to make any PASS appearances in 2020 and 2021. He did, however, build on a relationship with car owner Donnie Wilson, racing Wilson’s equipment in the Snowball Derby and finishing fourth in last year’s Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown (Penn.) Speedway.
Butcher made his first PASS start since 2019 earlier this year at Hickory Motor Speedway, driving Wilson-prepared cars in March’s back-to-back Easter Bunny 150s. Butcher was the runner-up in the first Easter Bunny 150, but a late-race wreck took him out of contention in the second.
Saturday’s victory was at the wheel of the family-owned equipment he and brother Jarrett have campaigned on both sides of the border for years, making the win that much sweeter.
Saturday night’s race was also a return to routine for PASS. After opening the PASS North schedule with the three biggest tracks on the docket – Thompson Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut, and the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the next few months are replete with far more familiar bullring stops. Aside from October’s return to Thompson, no track on PASS’ calendar is longer than a half-mile.
And for PASS, it does not get much more familiar than Oxford. The series’ home track hosts six points-paying races this year, including August’s Oxford 250 and the season finale in October. From points racers to part-timers, the goal is to build a notebook through the year to aid in understanding a track that seems to change demands with each and every visit.
For Cole Butcher, that notebook has gotten just a bit thicker.
Unofficial Results, PASS North Spencer Group Paving 150 at Oxford Plains Speedway:
1. (53) Cole Butcher
2. (54) Johnny Clark
3. (60) DJ Shaw
4. (7G) Curtis Gerry
5. (88) Brandon Barker
6. (29S) Trevor Sanborn
7. (50) Gabe Brown
8. (1) Kyle DeSouza
9. (17MA) Eddie MacDonald
10. (23) Dave Farrington, Jr.
11. (39) Max Cookson
12. (5M) Dillon Moltz
13. (20P) Joe Pastore
14. (50GRIT) Jeff White
15. (40) Nick Sweet
16. (94) Garrett Hall
17. (72) Ryan Kuhn
18. (4NH) Joey Polewarczyk
19. (14ME) Anthony Constantino
20. (12) Dennis Spencer
21. (36) Ryan Robbins
22. (44) Rusty Poland
23. (21) David Oliver
24. (56) Evan Beaulieu
25. (14) Scott McDaniel
26. (81) Dan Winter
27. (4) Ben Rowe
28. (12X) Corey Bubar
29. (88MA) Kevin Casper
30. (60B) Tim Brackett
31. (7) Travis Benjamin
32. (75) Gary Smith
33. (16) Donnie Colpritt
34. (1VT) Evan Hallstrom
35. (18S) Michael Scorzelli
36. (43) Randy Goulet
37. (78) Ivan Kaffel
38. (71) Gary Drew
39. (63) Kyle Salemi
DNS (3B) Travis Buzzell
DNS (61) TJ Brackett