The July 15 NASCAR All-Star Race will move to Bristol Motor Speedway, marking only the second time in the event’s history it will be held away from Charlotte Motor Speedway, Marcus Smith announced on FS1 Race Hub.
Speedway Motorsports owns both Bristol Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO, said up to 30,000 fans will be permitted to attend the event. Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway said the facility can hold 155,000. The crowd allowed would be less than 20% capacity. Tickets are on sale now.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning that having races with fans is important. NASCAR has announced its revised schedule through Aug. 2.
“As you see some areas open up, I think we start to concentrate on where could we have fans back,” he said about the rest of this year’s schedule. “Obviously, we want to keep the integrity of the championship in place and race at as many facilities as possible that were on the original schedule, but if we have the opportunity to make one or two additional adjustments where we could get fans back, obviously that is important for the sport.
“We want fans to be at the racetrack. We want new fans to be at the track. It’s also important … to our race teams. They’re involved in the sport, to bring their sponsors out and entertain customers. So if we can open some of those opportunities here toward the tail end of the season, we’re going to do that. Probably one or two adjustments to make.”
The Coca-Cola 600 was held in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans, but North Carolina continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“Right now, they’re not trending in the right direction,” N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said of the COVID-19 statistics on Monday.
Tennessee has allowed fans at large attractions, including racetracks, since May 22. The announcement was made too late for Bristol to have any fans for its May 31 Cup race. Moving the event could allow the track to have fans.
“We are proud to welcome the return of live sports in Tennessee at the iconic Bristol Motor Speedway,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement. “The All-Star Race is a historic opportunity for our state and I look forward to seeing the World’s Fastest Half-Mile back in action.”
Last weekend’s Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway was allowed to have up to 1,000 military members and family members as guests, marking the first time since NASCAR resumed last month that there were fans in the stands. Up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to purchase tickets for Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Cup races at Pocono Raceway (June 27-28), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 5) and Kentucky Speedway (July 12) will be held without fans, those tracks have announced. That would make the All-Star Race, scheduled for July 15, the next event after Talladega to have fans with a move to Bristol.
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 go to the two stage winners, race winner from the All-Star Open and the All-Star Fan Vote.
Voting for the All-Star Fan Vote is open at www.nascar.com/fanvote and the NASCAR mobile app. Fans may vote for one eligible NASCAR driver per ballot submission and submit one ballot per day per unique email address. Voting closes at 12 p.m. ET on July 14.
The All-Star Race debuted in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, moved to Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986 and returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1987. It has been held every year since at Charlotte.
This year’s race was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduled for July 15.