NASCAR Recap: Bristol Hosts the All-Star Race

How about a little mid-week racing this week? In a change from tradition and due to the Covid-19 virus, NASCAR moved the All-Star Race to Bristol Motorspeedway. In a sight that the drivers appreciated, 30,000 fans were allowed entry to Bristol Motor Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers. Located in Bristol, Tennessee, Bristol Motor Speedway became the first track to host the All-Star Race on a short track.

As usually happens with the All-Star Race, NASCAR implemented different ideas during the race. Among the changes were moving the driver’s car number to the rear quarter panel, lights underneath the car, and the implementation of a choose cone. The idea of the choose cone is to allow the driver’s the option of which lane to elect on restarts.

All-Star Open:

Stage 1:

Around 4:00 pm PST, Michael McDowell brought the field to the green flag with Aric Almirola in second. For the first half of the 35-lap stage, Almirola led the parade of cars around Bristol Motor Speedway. Just past the halfway point, Michael McDowell and Bubba Wallace got together. As he spun, Wallace made hard contact with the outside wall while McDowell spun to the inside. Upon being interviewed, Wallace felt the crash was intentional and stated about McDowell: “What a joke he is.” Once clean-up was completed, the green flag flew with Almirola pacing the field. With no further cautions, Almirola cruised to the Stage 1 win and entry to the All-Star race.

Stage 2:

William Byron and Ty Dillon led the field to green. Coming to complete Lap 3, while battling three-wide, John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Preece got together, with both spinning — bringing out the caution. The field restarted with 28 laps to go as William Byron and Ty Dillon battled with Dillon sliding up the track and losing track position. Byron slowly opened up a lead on the rest of the field and took Stage Two with Matt DiBenedetto in second. Upon winning the second stage, Byron punched his ticket to the All-Star race alongside Aric Almirola.

Stage 3:

With only 15 green flag laps scheduled for the third and final stage, only one more driver would advance to the All-Star Race. The field of 17 cars took the green flag, led by Matt DiBenedetto. Immediately after the green flag dropped, DiBenedetto pulled away with Clint Bowyer moving to the second position. In a surprisingly uneventful stage, DiBenedetto led wire-to-wire with Bowyer following closely in second. In consolation for his runner-up position in Stage Three, Clint Bowyer won the NASCAR “Fan Vote” and claimed the last spot for the All-Star Race.

All-Star Race:

Stage 1:

Martin Truex Jr. was to lead the field to green but failed inspection twice and had to start in the rear. Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney led the field to green and kicked off the first stage of the All-Star Race. Blaney took off with the lead while Bowman settled in at second place. The caution flag came out when Brad Keselowski made contact with Kurt Busch. Busch sustained minor damage to the rear of his car and was able to continue.

Blaney and Bowman led the field back to the green with Harvick powering by Bowman for second place. Blaney extended his gap over Harvick as the stage continued. With the stage nearing conclusion, Harvick began to mount a charge for the lead. Though able to get to the rear bumper of Blaney, Harvick settled for second behind Blaney as Stage One came to a close. All cars came to pit road for service with Kevin Harvick emerging as the leader with Chase Elliott in second.

Stage 2:

Harvick led the field back to green, though that did not last long. Ryan Newman spun coming out of Turn Four and made contact with the inside wall. Newman was able to make his way to the pits and have the damage worked on. As before, Harvick restarted as the leader with Ryan Blaney to his inside. Harvick held the lead for a lap before being passed by Chase Elliott. Throughout the rest of the stage, Elliott and Harvick pulled away from the rest of the field, with Elliott winning Stage Two. All cars came down to the pits for service except for Blaney, who could be heard saying: “I should have come in.”

Stage 3:

By not pitting, Blaney led the field to the green flag for the third stage with Chase Elliott on the inside. As Blaney maintained his lead, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Kevin Harvick battled for second place, going three-wide at one point. With 16 laps to go in the stage, Chase Elliott engaged in a side-by-side battle for the lead with Blaney. Though putting up a good fight, Blaney relinquished the lead to Elliott. Chase was able to hold off the rest of the field and won the third stage.

Stage 4:

Chase Elliott brought the field to the green flag for the last time with Keselowski to the inside. Elliott pulled away as Kyle Busch made his way to the second position. Kyle Busch tried to reach Elliott, but ran out of time, with the stage only at 15 laps. Elliott held on and was able to win the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The race as a whole brought some much-needed excitement to a stale event. Though lacking a lot of the beating-and-banging action that Bristol is known for, this iteration of the All-Star Race was able to liven this annual event. As an overall, the racing was good and Bristol proved to be worthy of hosting the All-Star Race. What were your thoughts on this year’s All-Star Race?

This Sunday, NASCAR makes its way to Texas Motor Speedway.

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a die-hard fan of the Detroit Red Wings and the New Orleans Saints. He has watched NASCAR since he was a kid and knows a little about a lot of sports.

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