LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Road crews, start your engines.

The state awarded a highway contract Monday to improve traffic flow and safety near Kentucky Speedway, where a massive gridlock of idled fans during the track’s inaugural Sprint Cup Series event caught as much attention as the racing.

The $3.7 million contract was awarded to Sunesis Construction Co. of West Chester, Ohio – one of five bidders, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said. The low bid from Sunesis came in $220,183 below the cabinet’s estimate.

Work crews will widen an exit ramp and a highway near the northern Kentucky racetrack and will add a pedestrian tunnel.

Meanwhile, the track is well along in adding parking to avoid a repeat of the traffic jam that marred the Sprint Cup event last July. Brake lights stretched for miles, and some irate fans missed the race. The speedway offered them ticket exchanges.

“Our pledge to fans has been that we will never experience the traffic delays like our inaugural race, and these changes, along with changes in our staffing and traffic plan, assure our success,” Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said Monday.

The speedway will get another chance to prove itself to Sprint Cup fans next year.

The track at Sparta, just off Interstate 71 between Louisville and Cincinnati, will hold two Nationwide Series events in 2012, along with a Sprint Cup race. It will hold Sprint Cup, Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races on June 28-30. A second Nationwide race will be paired with a truck event on Sept. 21-22.

So far, the efforts to create smoother traffic flow are getting a thumbs-up from NASCAR.

“We’ve been in close communications with the track and its management since last July, and we have been pleased to date with the progress

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