By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Two weeks ago, NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway announced the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race would be moving from Charlotte to Bristol for the first time in the history of the event. Now we know the format for the July 15 extravaganza under the lights.
The 140-lap race will be divided into four stages, with lengths of 55 laps, 35 laps, 35 laps, and 15 laps. All of the laps will count in the first three stages, while the final stage will only count green flag laps. Should there be a restart with two laps or less in the final stage, unlimited attempts at a green-white-checkered finish will be made.
Prior to the main event, the NASCAR Open will give three drivers, as well as the Fan Vote winner, the chance to advance into the All-Star Race. The Open will feature three segments of 35 laps, 35 laps, and 15 laps, with the winners of those segments automatically moving on to the All-Star Race.
A new addition to this year’s All-Star Race will be the “choose rule,” which is a staple of short track racing across the country. The idea is simple: As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they have the option to choose which lane they want to restart in. Normally, just the leader has that option, but in this race, the remainder of the field will get the chance to choose their preferred lane, adding another element of strategy for the race.
Along with the new “choose rule,” the cars themselves will also be sporting a new look, with the number moving from its traditional spot on the door back toward the rear wheel in an effort to give sponsors better placement during the race.
“There has already been an incredible amount of buzz around this year’s NASCAR All-Star Race with the move to Bristol Motor Speedway,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “In addition to the thrilling racing we’re used to seeing at Bristol, the choose rule is going to add another dynamic to the race. Drivers and fans have been asking for this change and I can’t think of a better time to try it than the all-star race.”
“This NASCAR All-Star Race under the bright lights of Bristol is setting up to be a memorable event for ages to come,” added Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “With a million dollar payout and no championship points on the line in this all out high-banked short track clash, it’s surely going to be a race that fans will not want to miss.”
Drivers eligible for the All-Star Race include those that meet the following criteria: Drivers who won a points event in either 2019 or 2020, drivers who won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete full-time, and drivers who won a NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete full-time.
The current field of eligible drivers stands at 15, with 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. all gaining entry into the race.
The NASCAR Open is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET on FOX Sports 1, with the All-Star Race taking place at 8:30 pm, also on FS1.