PHOTO: Jeff Taylor talks to one of his crew members during TD Bank 250 practice Saturday. Taylor will look to end years of frustration and win his first 250. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

OXFORD, Maine — The Indianapolis 500 has Dan Gurney and Michael Andretti. The Daytona 500 has Ned Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, and Terry Labonte.

And the TD Bank 250 has Jeff Taylor.

The nine-time Oxford Plains Speedway champion Taylor has been unable to claim the track’s biggest race. In 14 starts, a second place showing in 1995 remains Taylor’s best finish. The 45-year-old veteran was in contention in last year’s 250 until he faded to a sixth place finish.

“We’ve had cars that we coulda, woulda, and didn’t,” Taylor said. “I really don’t know (why he hasn’t won). We’ve tried hard; everybody tries hard. It’s just the way it goes.”

Taylor scored two American-Canadian Tour victories after his TD Bank 250 disappointment, including the week following the 250 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. Taylor also claimed the ACT race at Oxford in August.

“Obviously, those races aren’t as long as this,” Taylor said. “But it gave us a good gauge to go by. I wish we could have brought back the same stuff. Right now we’re kind of struggling.”

Taylor owns and operates a successful chassis business, Distance Racing, that supplies cars to many competitors, including Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Nick Sweet, Ben Ashline, and Jeff White. While trying to chase down his own dreams of winning the 250, Taylor still offers advice and knowledge to his racers.

“Race days, your mind gets pretty cluttered,” Taylor explained. “When they come talk to you, they know exactly where they’re at. I have to catch up to what they’re trying to say, because I don’t have any information about how their car is until they walk up. You’re mind gets pretty fried because you’re trying to catch up to everybody. There are so many different variables or what can change. It’s just becomes awfully hard to put them in their own box and not just give them the same answer.”

Even in a losing fight many years, Taylor can still find some comfort that his cars continually do well at the 250.

“Absolutely. We’ve hard cars that have won, and that means a lot to me, too,” Taylor said. “We try to be accommodating as we can. At times, I’m pretty rough answering questions. That’s why they come to us. Hopefully, we can give them a good enough piece that they can get it done. Last year, other than Kyle Busch, our cars led all the laps. It’s almost. That’s the way it always goes for us.”

After all the years of trying, is this finally Taylor’s year?

“I don’t know,” Taylor said. “We haven’t been racing. We’ve only raced one. A lot of things have to go right in that scenario. We’re trying and working hard. You have to get in, first. I’ve gone home from here. It can go either way.

“You have to really take this race with a grain of salt. You have to do all you can, but not think too much of it. That’s what most of us do: you get brainfried and say it’s the 250. It’s just another race. At the end of the day, it’s just another race. That car don’t know it’s the 250. It’s up to all of us.

“But, it would put a bookmark on what we’ve done here. Everybody says ‘oh you done good, but.’ It isn’t like we’ve come to this race and been horrible. We’ve could of, and just didn’t. But it would be a great ending chapter in a career.”

Taylor and over 70 other competitors will attempt to add their name into TD Bank 250 tonight. Qualifying begins at 2:00 p.m.