Charlotte Motor Speedway crews will install 340 feet of additional SAFER barriers along the track's inside backstretch retaining wall prior to the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the May 25 Coca-Cola 600.

"The hard licks that Jeff Gordon and Michael McDowell took earlier this season reminded us all that bizarre and unexpected things can happen in racing," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "This additional SAFER barrier will add more protection on our backstretch for May, and we're looking at some additional improvements back there as well."

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader and safety advocate Jeff Burton was at the 1.5-mile superspeedway today to assist Wheeler in placing the first new section of the steel and foam energy-reducing barriers.

"A race track can never provide more than enough tools to make racing safe," said Burton. "With cars reaching over 200 mph down the backstretch at Charlotte, installing extra SAFER barriers on the inside retaining wall is just another step 'Humpy' has taken to improve the safety of our sport. I'm excited the folks at Lowe's asked me to be part of this important project."

"After all the wall whacks we've had this year, the soft walls continue to do for racing what the nose guard on a helmet did for football," Wheeler added. "But competitor safety is like a moving target, and we've got to continue trying to improve our aim. We've always got to be looking at what we can do."

Wheeler also said engineers are researching alternatives to the current opening in the inside backstretch wall at LMS, which is used during races for staging emergency response vehicles. The concrete wall just past that opening is currently protected by encapsulated polystyrene blocks that are bolted to the wall.

In April 2004, more than 6,100-linear feet of SAFER barriers, which utilize foam blocks positioned behind rolled steel tubing, were installed at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That project included placing the energy-absorbing barriers in front of approximately 4,000 feet of outside retaining walls in the turns; 1,351 feel along the frontstretch quad-oval; and 796 feet on the insides of Turns 2 and 4.

The original installation included 476 feet of SAFER barriers along the inside concrete wall on the backstretch, starting at the exit of Turn 2. The new installation will continue those barriers down the backstretch toward the inside of Turn 3.

Tickets for the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and May 25 Coca-Cola 600 can be purchased online or by calling the track ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.