By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
It’s Bristol baby, All-Star edition!
The 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race will have a whole new vibe as President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Marcus Smith announced on NASCAR Race Hub Monday that Bristol Motor Speedway will now host the million-dollar event, replacing Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Bristol becomes only the third-ever track to host the All-Star Race and the first since Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986. The race date remains in tact, taking place on Wednesday, July 15 with FS1’s live coverage beginning at 7 p.m. EST.
Tickets are available as up to 30,000 fans can attend the historic weeknight event.
Smith issued a statement that while Charlotte will forever be recognized as the birthplace of the 35-year-old event, having Bristol as the new host was a better option due to North Carolina’s current status of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused tremendous difficulty of allowing a fanfare race without crowds rooting for the sport’s top drivers.
“North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state health officials have played a significant role in getting NASCAR back on track by allowing the race teams to go to work and allowing Charlotte Motor Speedway to host the Coca-Cola 600,” said Smith.
“Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Sullivan County officials have allowed for up to 30,000 fans at the All-Star Race in Bristol. We’re grateful for the continued support from both governors and all the state and local officials as we work with NASCAR to bring fans back to live sporting events.
“Bristol will no doubt put on a show worthy of the spectacle that the NASCAR All-Star Race has become known for, and we look forward to the challenge that the World’s Fastest Half-Mile promises to deliver.”
NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Development Steve O’Donnell is looking forward of having Bristol as this year’s venue.
“We are excited to take one of the most unique races in our sport to one of the most unique race tracks in our sport,” said O’Donnell. “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. We appreciate the great collaboration with Marcus Smith and his team, and all the race teams, in making this move. We look forward to bringing this thrilling race to a short track for the first time, and we hope our fans enjoy this special event, under the lights.”
The popular fan voting is now open at www.nascar.com/fanvote and the NASCAR app through Tuesday, July 14 at Noon EST. Fans can only vote for one driver per ballot and an email address is only allowed one ballot per day.
As of this time, 15 drivers are currently eligible to compete in the All-Star Race by virtue of winning a Cup race in 2019 or 2020, winning an All-Star Race or capturing a Cup Series championship.
These eligible drivers include: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex, Jr.
However, Haley said last Thursday he has no intentions of racing at the Cup level anytime soon. Therefore, leaving just 14 competitors that’ll compete at Bristol.
Both a format for this year’s All-Star Race and plans regarding whether or not the ARCA Menards Series racing will run at Charlotte July 15 will be announced at a later date.