MARTINSVILLE, VA. (Dec. 15, 2000) -- A tight pit road is being turned into a super highway.

Work has begun on a project to widen pit road at Martinsville Speedway by 10 feet, an undertaking that will make life much more comfortable for drivers and crew members when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series rolls into town for the Virginia 500 on April 8.

"Ten feet might not sound like much, but it's a hundred miles to these race cars on a tight pit road," said Sterling Marlin, driver of the Coors Light Dodge.

"Giving us a little bit more room down pit road is going to be a good deal for everyone. For one thing, it will help keep you from being blocked in all the time. For another, it gives you a little bit more room to drop the jack and get out. That's going to make for a better race all the way around."

Construction crews are in the process of removing the old inside pit-road wall. As soon as that project is completed, work will begin on construction of a new pit wall 10 feet back from the original one.

"We have always tried to listen to our competitors as well as our fans. That 's the best way I know of to improve what we already have," said Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell.

"When we developed the one pit road, it was a major improvement and one I felt was necessary in today's environment. While it was welcomed by most everyone, it did have one problem in that it needed to be wider. After hearing from the drivers and crews and taking into consideration the safety aspect of it, we decided it would be better to widen pit road by 10 feet. We feel this will make pit stops more exciting for the fans to watch and much safer for the guys who go over the wall."

The project should be completed by mid-March, before teams begin testing for the Virginia 500.

Two years ago Martinsville Speedway's pit area was reconfigured to eliminate the backstretch pits and create one long pit road. The move took away the advantage teams pitting on the front stretch had enjoyed, but the new configuration created close quarters during pit stops.

"Martinsville has always tried to make things better for everyone -- the fans, the teams, the drivers, everybody," said Jeremy Mayfield, driver of the Mobil 1 Taurus. "This is another case of them doing just that. They could see that two pit roads just wasn't fair, so a couple of years ago they did a lot of work to make one long pit road. That was pretty good, but it left them with a pit road that was still pretty slim.

"So they went back to the drawing board and they've given us some extra room. I think it's great. Here is an example of a track doing something very positive, something that doesn't make them any more money or add seats or anything, but doing it because it needed to be done. Man, my hat is off to those guys."

The next racing action at Martinsville Speedway is the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race on Sunday, April 8. Tickets are $40-$70 and are available by calling toll free at (877) 722-3849 or online at