A new face will be joining the regulars of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Tour as they embark on their third race of the 2020 season in the Race Face Tel-Med 300 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Delphi, Indiana native Sam Butler is currently making final preparations for what he believes will be an eventful debut in the series as he attempts to showcase his talents against seasoned veterans like Bobby McCarty, Deac McCaskill and others.
“This feels kind of insane, honestly,” Butler said. “We’ve only done a handful of races this season and we’re already doing a CARS Tour race. I’m a little nervous, but I know that everything is where it needs to be, so I’m feeling pretty confident about Saturday.”
A first-generation racer, Butler developed an interest in auto racing after he saw a commercial on TV about bandoleros and was inspired to talk to his father about starting his own career, which eventually resulted in Butler climbing behind the wheel of a Quarter-Midget.
It would not take long for Butler to get acclimated with piloting a Quarter-Midget, and he would quickly progress up into Legends competition, where he won the Indiana State Young Lions Championship and Bojangles’ Summer Shootout Young Lions championship at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2019.
For the 2020 season, Butler decided to move up into Late Models on a full-time basis and partnered with Triple R Racing to contest for a track championship at Hickory alongside drivers like Thomas Beane and Matt Leicht.
Butler admitted that his previous experience with Quarter-Midgets has helped him get more comfortable with Late Models after every weekend, and he is confident that he can regularly compete for victories by the end of the season at Hickory.
“The transition has been pretty good so far,” Butler said. “The Legends cars are a lot harder to get because it’s a whole different platform. Late Models are similar to quarter-midgets, so those cars basically turn by themselves. Late Models were a lot easier to get a hold of than Legends cars.”
Butler admitted that he has had a lot of fun racing at Hickory this year, but he said that his main focus is on building consistency, as he was watched several strong runs fall apart due to circumstances that have been outside of his control.
Butler’s best finish through four weekends at Hickory was a third that came in the first of two 40-lap features at the track on May 22, but he knows that duplicating such a strong showing on Saturday will involve several more factors like tire conservation and having solid long-run speed.
A strong field of over two dozen cars also stands in the way of Butler’s path to victory lane, but he is not intimidated by the drivers who are entered and believes that he can learn a lot from his competition while simultaneously putting himself in a position to win.
“Honestly, I feel pretty comfortable racing against these guys,” Butler said. “They’re a lot more experienced than most of the other guys I’ve competed against, and I’ve also raced against a few of these guys in Quarter-Midgets, so I know how some of them drive. I think we’ll be just fine for Saturday.”
Butler knows that his car is more than capable of winning, but he said that focus, patience and determination will be imperative as he takes part in a 150-lap Late Model feature for the first time in his brief career.
The green flag for the Late Model portion of the Race Face Tel-Med 300 at Hickory will fly after the 150-lap Super Late Model feature, which will start at approximately 7 p.m.