OXFORD — A group of 10 drivers, including one from the Pacific Northwest, gathered Wednesday at a quiet Oxford Plains Speedway to talk about their chances of winning the 43rd annual Oxford 250 on Sunday.

They represented a small percentage of drivers and teams who will seek to collect the $25,000 winner’s share.

“We’re going to have at least 60 cars on Sunday,” said Tom Mayberry, the Oxford Plains owner and Pro All Stars Series president. “I think we’re going to have a really, really good field.”

While there are no longer 100-plus cars entered as there was years ago, Mike Rowe of Turner – one of the three drivers with three Oxford 250 victories – believes this year’s field could be as solid.

“You’ve got to get in but there are 15 really good cars out there,” said Rowe, who owns 151 career feature wins at Oxford. “I think it’s sorted out a lot of them. A lot of guys who don’t think they can make it probably aren’t even coming. It’s not like it used to be when we’d have 110 or 115 cars trying to qualify, but anyone who gets into the show has got a shot to win.”

Among those with Rowe at the media session were Glen Luce of Turner, the defending Oxford 250 champion; Johnny Clark of Hallowell, a six-time PASS champion; Travis Benjamin of Morrill, a two-time Oxford 250 winner; and Spencer Robbins of Dixfield, the 2003 winner.

Garrett Evans of East Wenatchee, Washington, a four-time NASCAR Northwest Series champion, drove 3,068 miles to Oxford to compete for PASS National Series points and make his first Oxford 250 attempt.

The qualifying rounds begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

THINGS ARE different this year for Luce, who entered last year’s Oxford 250 with only one career Super Late Model victory – in a weekly race at Oxford years earlier.

“I was surprised. I really was,” Luce said of last year’s victory. “You go so long without success, being at the top it’s almost like I climbed Mt. Everest. I had to talk to myself the first few laps after I took the lead last year. I had to remind myself that it was just a race car and a race track, and I just needed to hit my marks and drive the car.”

Luce said he went from just being happy to be part of the show to wanting to challenge. Now he says he’s confident despite sitting sixth in the PASS standings this year with just two top-five finishes in 11 races.

“We know now what the car needs to feel like in order to get the same result,” Luce said. “Obviously you need a little bit of luck with the (qualifying) draw and attrition that can play a part, but we’ll try and find that feel we’re looking for Friday in practice and go from there.”

Certainly he’ll have plenty of interested eyes on his No. 7 car.

“To be honest, I kind of like sneaking in under the radar,” he said.

“Having all the attention, I don’t really care for that. I enjoy it for the team but it’s hard to get used to it.”

MIKE HOPKINS of Hermon, who made his Oxford 250 debut last year, scored his first career PASS win at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire, earlier this season but has struggled on the flatter tracks at Oxford and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

But Hopkins, 31, believes going back to the setup he used in 2015 could pay off this weekend.

He spent most of the middle stages of last year’s Oxford 250 racing with and around the leaders.

“This weekend we’re going back to what we had,” said Hopkins, who won the Long John 150 at Unity Raceway last season. “I’m optimistic for the weekend, for sure.”

Like for many Maine drivers, the Oxford 250 remains special.

“I think I’ve come to every Super Late Model race at the 250 since I was 15 years old,” he said.

“It’s quite a historical race. To be part of it for the first time last year, it’s hard to find words to describe it. People just don’t understand what it means. It was pretty cool.”