OXFORD — For every driver that has support from chassis builders this weekend, for each former champion, and for every multicar team with affiliations at a crowded Oxford Plains Speedway, there’s a John Peters.

The Westbrook native represents the true “little guy” at the 46th annual Oxford 250 this weekend, the racer who still thinks that simply qualifying for the race is nearly as good as winning it.

“I wouldn’t say I carry any kind of torch for people like us,” said Peters, who graduated from Southern New Hampshire University this year and lives in Cary, North Carolina, where he works in marketing. “But I’m very aware of what we have in terms of time and resources.”

Peters, 22, finished 10th in the Pro All Stars Series race Aug. 11 at Oxford, his fourth career top-10 finish in 13 starts. It’s a true family operation, with his father Greg serving as crew chief.

Peters missed qualifying for the Oxford 250 last season in his first try. After falling short in a first-round heat, he lined up third in his consolation-round race behind Bubba Pollard and Ben Rowe.

Pollard went on to win the main event; Rowe contended for a third 250 win before a battery issue ended his night. Peters wrecked on the first consolation lap.

“I think if I could finish in the top 10, that would be like winning for us,” Peters said. “But realistically, if we could get into this race, it would be a big day for the family.”

He’s not exaggerating. Greg Peters has six unsuccessful attempts to make the starting field – twice as a driver, twice as a car owner for Derek Kneeland, once as a crew chief for Richie Dearborn and last season with his son.

CURTIS GERRY of Waterboro turned the fastest lap during the five practice sessions Friday.

His 15.454-second lap was impressive considering it came in mid-afternoon when the track was hot and the grip was harder to find than in earlier sessions.

“That was pretty quick for us. We weren’t expecting that, we haven’t seen that all year,” said Gerry.

Gerry didn’t plan to practice Friday, and given his 2017 Oxford 250-winning car was among the quickest cars every time it hit the track, he probably didn’t need it.

“We weren’t going to come up here today but I wanted to be here. I wanted to be here for the atmosphere, get in the mode and see the other competitors. I really didn’t have the expectation to come up here and set the fastest lap.

“The car’s good, so we’re packing up and we’ll do it again (on Saturday).”

BUBBA POLLARD, the defending champion, is from a rural part of Georgia, nearly 30 minutes south of Atlanta. He said Oxford Plains reminds him of home.

“This is what we’re accustomed to,” he said. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere. Awesome when we pulled in and saw all the campers. That’s crazy. It’s a lot of fun here.”

Last year Pollard became the first southerner to win the Oxford 250 since Tommy Ellis in 1983.

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