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After four years racing Soap Box Derby cars, Kosinski moved up to Hornets in 2005, won her first dirt late model race in 2007 and had one victory and seven top-fives finishes this season.
"Ever since I was little, I've always wanted to go race those cars," she said of the ones used in NASCAR's premier series. She said her family's interest in auto racing of all kinds has continued to grow ever since her grandfather, Bob Kosiski, raced in the 1960 Daytona 500.
Given the chance to move up, she said, "then I'm living the dream."
For many, the first step is just showing they belong
Trista Stevenson learned that at the Music City Motorplex in Pocahontas, Ill., where she raced in the Whelen Series this year after not making it through the combine last year.
Guys she races against, she said, often flash "Why are you here?" looks her way.
"They don't think that girls can do it. Why? I don't know," she said. "We're just like a guy except in a girl body. They'll rough you up and try to take you out. If you let them take you out, they're going to do it every week. You've just got to pound them back and show them that 'I'm not going to give up just because you're a guy and I'm a 17 year-old girl.'"
Or, in the case of Michael Cherry, a 19-year-old black driver trying to make his way.
Cherry is grateful for the program that gave him a steady ride last year, even if he had to commute from his home near Tampa, Fla., to Motor Mile Speedwway in southwest Virginia.
"It gives us hope that we do have a chance to make it somewhere and show what we've got," Cherry said of the program. "If it wasn't for this program, I wouldn't be where I am now."
Going forward, NASCAR hopes, Cherry and others will keep improving that position, too.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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