For the first time ever, the NASCAR All-Star Race took place at Bristol Motor Speedway. Also for the first time ever, Chase Elliott was a million-dollar winner, winning three stages en route to his first victory in the exhibition race.
Martin Truex Jr. won the pole but was sent to the rear after failing inspection twice, leading to Alex Bowman starting first. Aric Almirola, William Byron, and Matt DiBenedetto qualified for the race via winning the Open’s three segments, while Clint Bowyer advanced via Fan Vote.
The first stage was 55 laps long, the longest of the four segments.
After starting second, Blaney took the lead from Bowman to kick off the event. On lap nine, Kurt Busch spun for the first incident of the night, but avoided damage.
The rest of the segment ran green as Blaney led to the green-checkered flag. Behind him, Bowman was passed by Kevin Harvick and Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Elliott for second and third.
Erik Jones, Almirola, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Newman recorded top-ten finishes in the stage.
Stages #2 and 3
The second and third stages lasted 35 laps each.
Harvick and Elliott were the first off pit road. Jones received a penalty for having a crewman over the wall too soon.
After a lap of racing, Newman spun exiting turn four for the caution on lap 57; he was eventually penalised for pitting too soon. Like the first stage, it was the lone yellow flag of the day as Elliott took the win ahead of Harvick and Blaney.
Stage #3 began with Blaney and Elliott on the front row, the former choosing the outside line. Regardless, the latter would take the lead and hold the position for the entire stage.
The final stage was just 15 laps and only counted laps under green.
The top four stayed out, with the highest-placing driver to pit being Harvick. The points leader would also be the first out of the pits. Keselowski was the first driver to pick the inside lane; although an undesirable line, it placed him on the front row for the restart.
A strong restart on the outside propelled Elliott ahead on the outside, while Keselowski quickly lost positions. Busch took second and began to chase the leader down.
However, it was not enough for the reigning champion as Elliott stormed off to his first All-Star win. He joins his father Bill in the list of All-Star Race victors, making the Elliotts the second father/son pair to accomplish the feat since Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. Fittingly, Bill’s win in 1986 was at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the only other venue besides Bristol to host the race outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway. On a more amusing note, Bill was nicknamed “Million Dollar Bill”, though it was for his Winston Million achievement rather than an All-Star win like his son.
“I can’t believe it,” Elliott said in his post-race interview with FS1. “What a better night to fans have back than tonight?
“We had a really tough couple of weeks. Just felt like we had gotten off base and I was struggling. Just trying to hit the reset button this week, came out, and put on a great performance.”
The All-Star has commonly served as a testing ground for NASCAR to experiment with new ideas. In 2020’s case, a choose cone was introduced for drivers to select their restart lane. The cars’ numbers were moved closer to the rear wheel to allow for sponsorship on the door, while underglow was applied to the rear for drivers already locked into the race prior to Wednesday.
The aesthetic changes were met with mixed reviews, with the number movement being viewed by critics as an unnecessary deviation from an unbroken tradition of door numbers. The underglow was seen by others as not being interesting in execution as they were limited to just the cars’ rears, while their colours were based on their manufacturer (red for Toyota, amber for Chevrolet, blue for Ford) rather than livery.
“The number position has a future, the lights probably don’t,” Earnhardt Jr. tweeted. “I’d rather the lights fit the scheme. And not just be at the back?”
The race was also the largest sporting event to allow fans since the worldwide proliferation of COVID-19, allowing up to 30,000 spectators.