Cole Butcher celebrates atop his car with the checkered flag Sunday after winning the Oxford 250 for the second year in a row. Brewster Burns photo

OXFORD — The Oxford 250 has its villain again.

Cole Butcher’s second straight Oxford 250 win Sunday night came amid controversy — just as his victory last year drew the ire from fellow competitors. 

Not since Ralph Nason retired from the seat has a driver elicited the type of response Butcher has when he’s climbed from his car into victory lane at Oxford Plains Speedway the last two seasons.

Ironically, prior to Sunday’s 50th anniversary edition of the Oxford 250, the conversation centered on the event’s history and the personalities who wrote those history books. There was a consensus that the race had become a bit stale over the past decade, in desperate need of a Nason or a Tommy Ellis — who famously referred to his local competitors as “junkers” following his win in 1983 — to truly give people a rooting interest.

Enter Cole Butcher.

Sunday’s second-place finisher, Joey Doiron, wasn’t just disappointed as he stood outside his car, only feet from Butcher’s post-race celebration on the Oxford Plains Speedway frontstretch. No, Doiron was seething, containing his anger only long enough to get to the part where he could no longer stand it.

Asked about being passed by Butcher for the lead with 26 laps remaining, Doiron didn’t mince words.

“I know (Butcher) wants to win, but you can at least try to pass,” Doiron said. “He doesn’t really ever do that. He didn’t do it last year, and he certainly didn’t do it (Sunday) at any point. Until they do something about it, it’s just going to keep happening.”

While Butcher didn’t go full Nason — who famously emerged to a thundercloud of boos after his 1998 victory (his first of three in a row) and then waved his arms at the grandstands to implore more jeering — his choice words were like daggers flung through the late-night Oxford fog.

“It’s the Oxford 250. It’s the 50th anniversary,” Butcher said. “Get over it.”

The response wasn’t only cutting, it was also tone deaf.

See, Butcher may be from the small Canadian town of Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia, but his racing career is outsized. Butcher doesn’t race weekly at places like Oxford Plains or Spud Speedway. He competes in the biggest Super Late Model races across the nation for purses totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

To him, a 250-lap victory might be part of the job. To his competitors on Sunday, it’s a life’s purpose.

Doiron will never get over losing the Oxford 250, just like Johnny Clark will always feel the sting of his 2022 loss at the hands of Butcher. Butcher tangled with Clark around lapped traffic to take the lead with less than 10 laps remaining in that Oxford 250.

Clark finished fourth on Sunday and admitted he didn’t have a car capable of competing with Doiron or Butcher at the end, but he was no less perturbed by seeing Butcher win another one.

“I knew once Cole got (the lead), it was over,” Clark said. “Which sucks for everyone else.”

If Butcher left the 2022 Oxford 250 with only a handful of detractors, he made sure not to leave with many admirers on Sunday. It started bright and early in his qualifying race, when he started ninth in the 12-car field and made contact with virtually every car he encountered on his way to the win.

He wasn’t done there. Seven laps into the main event, he spun pole-sitter Jimmy Renfrew Jr. out of the lead and was penalized for rough driving, sent to the back of the 41-car field.

His race-long maneuvering got him to Doiron’s rear bumper with only a handful of laps remaining. Doiron insisted Butcher moved him out of the way, and Butcher didn’t deny it.

Joey Doiron, bottom left, leads the field as the Oxford 250 resumes after the race’s 12th and final caution. Doiron finished second behind Cole Butcher (53). Brewster Burns photo

“Everybody chops you going into (turn) four, so you can only put up with it for so long,” Butcher said.

“I tried to get him back, but I got in a four-wheel skid and missed him,” Doiron added. “I wish it had gone green with Johnny (Clark) behind me, because Johnny’s a real racer. He’s going to race you hard, but he’s not going to just instantly drive through you the once chance he gets to your bumper.”

There’s no reason to expect Butcher won’t be back for next year’s Oxford 250 to try and become a three-time Oxford 250 winner.

The last driver to win three consecutive Oxford 250 titles? Fittingly, it was Nason.

While Butcher and Nason may not resemble one another in many ways, they are united by a single common trait.

When either rolls into Oxford Plains Speedway, they do so as the villain — and the race is better for it.

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