The unofficial theme for the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race has to be change — from location to car appearance and rules. First of all, the yearly exhibition event, scheduled for Wednesday night, is being moved from its usual home, Charlotte Motor Speedway, to Bristol Motor Speedway.
The change in locale is attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, the 2020 edition of the race has been moved to Bristol Motor Speedway. Wednesday night’s race will be the first NASCAR All-Star Race at BMS and will mark only the second time the event has been held somewhere other than CMS. The All-Star Race, held yearly since 1985, was hosted by Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986. Up to 30,000 fans will be allowed to attend at Bristol.
“This NASCAR All-Star Race under the bright lights of Bristol is setting up to be a memorable event for ages to come,” Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell said. “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.”
NASCAR has traditionally used its All-Star Race as an experimentation opportunity. One of the experiments for 20 is the implementation of a “choose cone” rule that is used by various late-model series around the U.S. but has never been utilized in a NASCAR national series. The rule prevents jockeying for position coming off pit road in attempts to restart a race in a specific line. Drivers in the All-Star Race will be allowed to choose whether they’ll restart in the inside or outside line, regardless of how they come off pit road. The trade off to starting in the more desirable line is the probability of starting farther back in that line.
“There has already been an incredible amount of buzz around this year’s NASCAR All-Star Race with the move to Bristol Motor Speedway,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said. “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.”
Cars also will look different Wednesday. Car numbers on the sides of cars will be moved from the door area to farther back toward the rear quarter panels, allowing for additional space that may be sold to sponsors. NASCAR has used that number positioning in its regional series.
Also, cars already in the All-Star Race ahead of Wednesday will feature underglow lighting, similar to the lighting under cars participating in a burnout event during 2019 Champion’s Week in Nashville. Cars already in the All-Star Race include those of drivers who won points-paying races last year or this year through Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday.
Drivers not already in the All-Star Race will compete for the final All-Star entries through the 85-lap All-Star Open, held before the main event at Bristol Wednesday. Winners of each of the Open stages (35, 35 and 15 laps) will advance to the All-Star Race, as will the winner of an online fan vote.
The All-Star Race will be 140 laps, divided into four stages of 55, 35, 35 and 15 laps. Only green-flag laps will count in the final stage, and the race winner will be awarded $1 million.
Drivers already in the 2020 All-Star Race 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.
The NASCAR Open is scheduled for an approximate 7 p.m. ET start, with the All-Star Race to follow at approxmiately 8:30 p.m. Both may be sine live on FOX Sports 1.