Ibnascar Notebook:/B/I Winston Cup Shifts Gears

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't quite sure what to expect Sunday in the Pocono 500.

"We're really going to be rookies," said Earnhardt, who recently ran his first test laps at the triangular 2.5-mile Pocono International Raceway.

With its three distinct corners, the track is one of a few on the NASCAR circuit where drivers must shift gears.

"It's so different," said Earnhardt, a two-time winner this season. "I had to work at concentrating on when to shift and how to get through each section of the track."

Jimmy Spencer knows exactly what to expect from his home track.

"It's the hardest track we go to on the cars. It annihilates a motor, transmission -- everything about it," said Spencer, who grew up in nearby Berwick, Pa.

Injured Shawna Drives On: Shawna Robinson won't let a couple of broken bones get in the way. She still wants to become the first female driver to run a complete season on a national stock-car circuit.

Robinson plans to start the ARCA series race Saturday at Pocono International Raceway, a week after breaking two ribs and a shoulder in a crash at Michigan Speedway.

"It would be easy just to sit back and say, 'Hey, I can't do it.' But that's not what I'm all about and it's not what the team is all about," said Robinson, a 35-year-old mother of two from Des Moines, Iowa.

Robinson, seventh in the season standings, must qualify and start the race to earn points toward the championship. Winston Cup driver Ed Berrier will be her backup.

"This is all part of racing and always has been," Robinson said. "We're very serious about doing whatever it takes to win races and to make a run at this championship."

Robinson's Kmart Kids Race Against Drugs team is co-owned by Jeremy Mayfield and Michael Kranefuss, Mayfield's car owner in the Winston Cup series.

Bluegrass Baby: The Kentucky Speedway will open Saturday night with the NASCAR truck series' Kroger 225.

"The place is awesome," series points leader Jack Sprague said, referring to the 1.5-mile tri-oval. "The track looks a lot like Las Vegas and we've run awfully well at Las Vegas."

The $152 million speedway is near Covington, and 35 miles south of Cincinnati. The facility has nearly 66,000 grandstand seats, 50 luxury suites, a 210-seat glass-enclosed restaurant and a 2,000-seat exterior club. There are plans for a drag strip and the expansion to 120,000 seats and 120 luxury suites.

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