NASCAR All-Star Race Moves to Bristol Motor Speedway for 2020

NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports announced Monday that this years postponed NASCAR All-Star Race will move from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Bristol Motor Speedway. The July 15 race at the concrete half-mile will also include a limited number of fans in attendance.

“The NASCAR All-Star Race is an event known for making history, and we will enhance that legacy by hosting the event at Bristol Motor Speedway,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said in a release.

“While Charlotte will always be recognized as the birthplace and traditional home for the All-Star Race, the current data surrounding the pandemic in North Carolina makes Bristol a better option for fan access this summer,” Smith added.

The first All-Star Race was held in 1985 and won by Darrell Waltrip. The non-points event has been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year but one. In 1986, Bill Elliott beat Dale Earnhardt at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The event returned the next year to Charlotte, which is considered the home track for drivers and has remained there ever since.

Normally scheduled on the weekend prior to the NASCAR Cup series Coca-Cola 600 at the same track on Memorial Day weekend, the event was postponed this year as NASCAR works on catching up a schedule that had been on hold since March and returned at Darlington on May 17. As part of the make-up schedule NASCAR raced at Bristol on May 31.

“We are excited to take one of the most unique races in our sport to one of the most unique racetracks in our sport,” NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Development Steve O’Donnell said in a release. “Bristol Motor Speedway puts on classic short-track action every time we race there, and we’re anticipating an elevated level of intensity for the NASCAR All-Star Race.”

The drivers will still compete for a $1 million prize. In a press release, SMI officials said additional details on the format will be announced at a later date.

To be eligible to compete in the All-Star Race, full-time drivers must have: won a 2019 or 2020 Cup Series race; won a previous All-Star Race; or be a former Cup Series champion. Drivers currently eligible include Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliot, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

The final four spots in the All-Star Race field will be reserved for the two stage winners and race winner from the All-Star Open as well as the winner of the All-Star Fan Vote.

The Fan Vote opens today for eligible drivers who have not yet qualified for the event. Fans can go here starting at 7 p.m. ET to vote for their favorite driver. Whoever gets the most votes and doesn’t clinch a spot in the All-Star Open will advance to the main event.

Bristol Motor Speedway’s modified event procedures, protocols and number of attendees will be finalized with continued guidance from public health officials, medical experts, local, state and federal officials, and in coordination with NASCAR.  The number of fans who will be allowed was not officially announced, however during a teleconference Monday night Smith said they are hoping for up to 30,000.

Protocols will include social distancing amongst groups of fans in the grandstands and individually in concession lines; enhanced cleaning and sanitation in high-touch, high-traffic public areas; added hand-sanitizer stations; limited guests in suites; and infield admission for race team and operation personnel only. Fans will be allowed to bring in one soft-sided clear bag with food and beverage. Coolers will be prohibited to reduce checkpoint contact between spectators and speedway staff, and souvenirs will be sold only from concourse areas. Campground shower facilities will be closed.

In the release officials said Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR will continue to adapt and improve procedures to ensure they are effective and can be scaled to support increasing the number of fans in the future.