OXFORD — It is generally accepted that there are three elements in winning the Oxford 250: A fast car, good pit strategy and a healthy dose of good fortune.

As for other factors that are necessary to reach victory lane, drivers — as is often the case — don’t agree on much else. Seven drivers at the 44th annual Oxford 250 media day Wednesday at Oxford Plains Speedway gave varying opinions on what it takes to join the list of 31 previous winners of the event.

Defending 250 champ Wayne Helliwell Jr. said he learned a valuable lesson in 2015.

“The one thing we learned was not to become money hungry,” said Helliwell, of Pelham, New Hampshire. “(Two years ago) we were leading laps and thought we were good enough when two of the caution flags came out to hang in for a little bit longer and make some money. Ultimately, it bit us in the (butt). We almost ran out of fuel. A caution came out, but it put us so far back that we couldn’t mount that charge back up through.”

In addition to the guaranteed $25,000 purse for the winner, the race also pays $100 per lap for leading. Helliwell led more than half of the 2015 race — 145 laps in all — but could only rally back to finish seventh at the checkered flag once he finally pitted.

“It’s not being greedy and paying attention to what everyone else is doing,” Helliwell said.

Glen Luce, who won that 2015 race, said becoming two different drivers in the same day is key to victory.

Qualifying races are a mad dash to secure one of the four transfer spots into the starting grid for the main event, while the Oxford 250 itself is about patience.

“I’m 50 years old on Friday, and it took me that long to learn that,” said Luce, of Turner. “When you’re in your heat (race), there’s no friends and you’ve got to push a little bit if that’s what it takes.

“But 50 to 100 laps (into the 250), even if you’re a tenth (of a second) quicker than a guy, you don’t want to knock your fender off or piss somebody off. A hundred laps later when you come back around, if you get repaid for that it would not be good.”

Reigning Pro All Stars Series champion D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, finished a career-high third in the Oxford 250 a year ago. He still says he had the right strategy laid out for a victory, and added he would duplicate it if given the chance. He, along with two-time Oxford 250 winner Travis Benjamin and a host of other early race contenders, pitted at the midway point for fresh tires. Helliwell pitted early for two right side tires before making a late stop for another set of four tires to complete the race.

Shaw cites a blend of pit strategy and luck as keys to an Oxford 250 victory.

“You need the luck on how your strategy falls,” Shaw said. “Last year, we went with the same strategy, as Travis and Wayne went with the two tires early and four tires later. Me and Travis went in the middle, and he ended up beating us.

“I feel like it has to work out perfectly for Wayne’s strategy to work — everything has to go perfect — but it did, and he cashed the check.”

With so many variables in play this weekend, there remains very little consensus on what it takes to win the Oxford 250.

That, Helliwell says, might be the one thing everyone can agree on.

“There’s never a set plan,” said Helliwell, a three-time American-Canadian Tour champion. “You can listen to us on the radio and we sound like a bunch of buffoons. ‘Do you want to pit?’ ‘I don’t know, do you want to pit?’ We just kind of go however the race is going and watch what everybody else is doing. Any time we’ve ever tried to set something as ‘this is the way it’s going to be’ it never really seems that it works out.

“Every race has its own thing.”

Including this one.

Qualifying for the Oxford 250 begins with first-round heat races at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The main event will start at approximately 6 p.m. A starting field of 42-44 cars, whittled down from approximately 65 entries, is expected to take the green flag.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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