OXFORD — If Mike Rowe is the undisputed king of Oxford Plains Speedway, then Jeff Taylor and Tracy Gordon are the noblemen.

When qualifying for the 44th edition of the Oxford 250 begins at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Taylor and Gordon will try again for an elusive victory in the $25,000-to-win race.

While Rowe, who has 151 career feature wins at OPS, already has three Oxford 250 victories, neither Taylor nor Gordon has won the race despite several near-misses.

Taylor has been more successful at the track than anybody besides Rowe. He has 74 career wins at Oxford and a record nine track championships. What he doesn’t have is an Oxford 250 win, despite leading more than 300 laps. He has a pair of runner-up finishes and 10 top 10s in 17 career starts.

“It’s home,” said Taylor, 50, of Mercer. “I can remember sitting in the grandstands with my mother and aunt watching the races with them and just hoping to race someday. It’s so different from my generation versus the kids of today. They all want to be in (NASCAR) at 19; well, all I wanted to do was be on Oxford Plains Speedway.”

This year, the 250 will be the only race of the season for the owner of Distance Racing in Fairfield.

“We’ve had cars more than capable of winning this race,” Taylor said Saturday during a practice session in which 70 cars participated. “We all have stories the older we get, but I always tell the story of the year when we were four laps down because we had a flat (tire). We passed everybody twice … and we still finished two laps down. That car was more than capable of winning – you lapped everybody twice and still lost.

“If we had never had cars like that, I don’t know if (winning the 250) would much matter. But being that close and having never done it, it’s just something you want to do.”

Taylor’s best chance to win might have been in 1995, when he finished second after leading more than half the race. He was the runner-up that year, and again in 2012.

Gordon, 51, of Strong, won the 1991 track championship and moved on to win 12 races in the old NASCAR Busch North Series. He knows about bad luck in the Oxford 250.

In 14 career starts, he’s finished in the top five four times, including second in 1997 and 1998. He led 125 laps in 1996.

“Patience is the virtue with this one,” said Gordon, who races a part-time schedule nowadays. “Don’t rush it, you’ve got 250 laps. If I get my car fast enough to be running up front, hopefully I’ll have the patience. Patience comes with time.”