OXFORD — The heat is on – OK, make that the heats – before the main event Sunday when the auto race that’s humbly tagged Maine’s Greatest Race makes its annual appearance at Oxford Plains Speedway.

The Oxford 250 (a return to days of yore after years with a corporate tag) begins with an afternoon of heat races starting at 2 p.m.

“With these type of cars there’s about four big races throughout the country. This is definitely one of them,” said Joey Doiron, who enters the race third in the Pro All Star Series North standings. “You win this race, everybody knows who you are. This is a race that can really put you on the map.”

From Doiron to Mike Rowe, a three-time Oxford 250 champ, to Johnny Clark, the current PASS North points leader, just about everyone agreed it’s anybody’s race to win.

Here is a look at five groups that could win:

PAST CHAMPIONS

There will be four past winners, including the 2013 champ, Travis Benjamin. Last year he took the lead from Doiron on Lap 209 and used nifty maneuvering around lapped cars to win.

“I knew we had a good shot at winning but honestly, this is one of those races that growing up as a kid I didn’t dream of winning it, I just dreamed of being a part of it,” Benjamin said. “I never had the expectations that we should be the ones to win.

“This year I do feel like we should be the ones to repeat. There are so many good cars out there it’s hard to say that. To win one is more than I ever dreamed of; to win two it would just be that much sweeter.”

Someone who knows a thing or two about repeating at the Oxford 250 is Ben Rowe, who won the race in 2003 and 2004 before his father, Mike, won it 2005.

Also entered is the 2002 champ, Scott Robbins of Dixfield.

NASCAR NAMES

How much does experience on the big stage play into a race like the Oxford 250?

Steve Park and Austin Theriault enter on opposite ends of their careers, but each brings NASCAR experience.

Park got his start racing in the Winston Cup for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 1996, and has competed in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

“If I am fortunate enough to win the 250 I want it with a guy like Steve Park in the race because then you can say I beat the best,” said Clark. “It means that much more to you.”

Theriault, 20, finished third in the 250 in 2011 and 2012, giving the 2011 winner, Kyle Busch, a good run. Last year, Theriault placed fourth.

“We have a pretty good history at that track but obviously the win has been elusive,” he said. “Sort of the same story for a lot of people. There are very few that have come out on top in that race and the ones that have come out on top have cherished the moment.”

Theriault, of Fort Kent, has run two Nationwide races this year for JR Motorsports, finishing 21st at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12 and 15th at Iowa Speedway on May 18.

“It would mean a lot for not only myself but the whole team. I think it would be exciting for everybody. It’s Maine’s biggest race and New England’s biggest short-track race,” Theriault said. “This is the crown jewel of short track racing. For a lot of people, winning this race might be more exciting than a Nationwide race in New Hampshire.”

PASS NORTH

Clark first competed in the Oxford 250 as a 17-year-old in 1997. He started seventh, finished 11th and has gone on to one of the greatest careers in the 14-year history of PASS North.

After struggling the past few seasons, Clark, who had his best finish in 2005 as runner-up to Mike Rowe, is again on top in PASS North.

“He’s back in a big way. In the past he’s been the benchmark and they’re a championship organization,” said D.J. Shaw, another PASS driver.

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Knowing the track can go a long way. Shawn Martin, Jeremy Davis, Shane Green, T.J. Brackett and Vanna Brackett have honed their craft all season at Oxford Plains.

“Those guys are good,” Mike Rowe said. “They could end up winning this thing as well.”

Martin, the points leader in Pro Late Models at Oxford Plains, in particular is a potential winner.

“I still say Shawn Martin is a sleeper in this,” Clark said. “I really think that Shawn Martin has got a good car for the long haul and he’s been racing there every week.”

PASS SOUTH

While the field is predominately rooted in New England, a handful of competitors from the PASS South series will make the trek to Oxford.

Daniel Hemric of Kannapolis, North Carolina will be one driver to keep an eye on. He’s won four of the five series races he’s entered this season.

Tyler Dippel is fourth in PASS South points and Preston Peltier is coming off his first win of the season at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, North Carolina. Jay Fogleman, who has three PASS South starts in 2014, is also in the field.