BROOKLYN, Mich. -- No one will be watching the weather more than Shawna Robinson will be this weekend.
Robinson is vying to become the first woman to start a Winston Cup race since 1989. But if rain washes out Friday's qualifying - and there's a chance for showers in the area - she will be eliminated from the Kmart 400.
"Our biggest fear right now is rain," Robinson said. "If it rains out qualifying, we don't get a chance again."
Robinson is making her second attempt this season to drive in stock car racing's top series. Her first try, in April at California Speedway, ended on her qualifying lap when a part broke on the rear of her Ford Taurus.
With no owner points to get her in the field - the same situation she would face here - Robinson went home in tears. The five weeks spent waiting for her next chance were agony.
"I don't think words could ever describe how disappointed we all were at California. I felt like I wanted to curl up and go away," Robinson said. "Let me tell you, it's been a long, long time since California until this week."
Now Robinson will try to make the 43-car field at Michigan International Speedway, providing the weather and her luck holds up.
Should she make Sunday's race, she'll become the first woman to take the green flag since Patty Moise in 1989.
But Robinson, who will try to race in four more Winston Cup events this year before team owner Michael Kranefus enters her in a full schedule next season, isn't trying to do this just to follow Moise into the record books.
"We want to race, that's what we are here for," she said. "Nobody on this team, especially me, is going out there just to go out there and I'm not crawling into a Winston Cup car to make history or to be the first at something."
Robinson has been racing cars all her life and advanced all the way to the Busch Series, where she was runner-up for rookie of the year in 1992 and won a pole in Atlanta in 1994.
But she took a five-year break to start a family and another career, as owner of a home-decorating business.
She was still around the track during that time - her husband in an engine builder for Dale Earnhardt Jr. - and eventually decided to return to racing.
"I want to be something in this sport," she said. "I'm racing because I'm competitive, because I want to be a factor and because this is what I've wanted to do for such a long, long time."
Robinson should have experience on her side at Michigan, at least on the qualifying lap.
She set the track qualifying record of 184.606 mph last year in winning an ARCA pole and feels comfortable on the speedway's wide, two-mile oval.
But just making the race won't be enough for Robinson. Ideally, she'd like to make it through the practice runs this weekend while learning about the car, then be around at the end of Sunday's race.
Lost in it all to her will be that she's a woman.
"There isn't any self-satisfaction in being the first female to do something," she said. "In my heart, the only satisfaction is in winning and taking a step closer to being competitive with the best there is."
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