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Inside the Chase: Pit road peril

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
Published October 23, 2005

The long lane where teams make pit stops is one of the most dangerous and intriguing areas of the racetrack. At Martinsville Speedway, Nextel Cup's shortest track at 0.526 mile, the frenzy of 43 cars and hundreds of crewmen coming over the wall makes pit road treacherous. Because the track is so small, pit stalls begin in the third turn and wrap around the frontstretch to the exit in Turn 2.

While drivers often vie to gain track position on pit road at other tracks, at Martinsville they are often just interested in getting in and out without any damage to their cars.

Jeff Gordon, a six-time Martinsville winner:

"I've seen some intentional things happen here on pit road. Maybe you're coming around somebody and might cut the right front tire changer off a little bit too much, and the carrier - all he has to do is just bring that right front tire around and hit your fender. So, things like that, I have seen happen. Not very often.

"You don't have to do anything to already create an issue here because it's small. The pit boxes are just so tiny. This is one of those tracks where you're much better off giving up some positions on pit road to save your front fenders, or trying not to hit or run into somebody else on there.

"But what I do see happening is that, as the race goes on, the attrition picks up in the first half. But in the second half, it's actually pretty clear. Surviving that first half is a big part of it."

[Last modified October 23, 2005, 01:21:14]

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