Jeff White hopes he doesn’t need it, but he acknowledges it’s nice to have tucked away in the proverbial back pocket.

“I’m in no matter what,” the Winthrop driver said. “So that’s nice. But we want to qualify. We want to get in, get out front and stay there. It’s nice to have the provisional. It helps. But we still plan on qualifying.”

The 38th annual TD Bank 250 is today at Oxford Plains Speedway. The green flag, after 12 qualifying heats, is expected to drop about 6:30 p.m.

And White will be in the field, regardless of how his qualifying runs go, because he enters the race as the current Late Model points leader at OPS.

He is one of just a handful of drivers who are assured provisionals in Maine’s most prestigious race.

Another driver who is all but assured a spot in the race, which will pay $25,000 to the winner?

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch, who will compete in his third 250 in the last seven years.

He joins a long list of NASCAR drivers who’ve competed in the race.

Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Kurt Busch, Dale Jarrett, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski are among the NASCAR drivers who’ve tested their skill and luck at the 250.

Busch, who is fifth in points on the Sprint Cup series, finished sixth in 2005 and 22nd in 2006. He hopes to become the first Sprint Cup driver to win the TD Bank 250 since Harvick took the checkered flag in 2008.

A victory won’t come easy.

Two-time defending champ Eddie MacDonald, of Rowley, Mass., hopes to enter the field. MacDonald competed Saturday night at a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in Columbus, Ohio. American-Canadian Tour points leader Brian Hoar, who started on the pole last year and finished second, will also race.

“This race can make you,” said Joey Polewarczyk Jr., a Hudson, N.H., native who finished in the 2008 250. “It can make you forget about every bad race you’ve ever had. It’s huge.”

So, what will it take to win?

A fast car certainly will help. A wreck-free race is also preferable.

And …

“You have to have a lot of luck,” said Lewiston native Corey Morgan, an OPS regular who finished third last season. “You need a good car, and you need some skill. But you really need to have some luck.”

Added White: “You have to try and be as patient as you can. You have to be patient for the first 200 laps and then do a lot of praying after that.”

White didn’t compete for points at OPS last season, but changed his mind heading into this one. He leads Don Wentworth and Morgan in the standings this season.

White also won the Big Jab 150, an ACT race, on June 4 at OPS. That victory gives him confidence heading into the 250, although he says he doesn’t have an advantage.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “We’re happy with our season, but I don’t believe we have any advantage. There are a lot of good drivers out there.”

Ricky Rolfe, 47, of Albany Township, said there is immense pressure to just qualify for the 250.

There are six 15-lap qualifying heats with the top four in each qualifying for the race. There are also three 20-lap consolation races, with the top three cars also earning a spot in the field. And, lastly, there will be three 20-lap last chance races with the winner advancing.

“Qualifying is so pressure-packed,” said Rolfe, who has three top-10 finishes in the last seven 250 races. “It’s the most pressure you’ll feel, just trying to qualify. It’s all gravy from there.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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