NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol hosts largest sporting event crowd since pandemic

Posted at 8:43 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 23:43:05-04

Cue the siren at the Dawsonville Pool Room — another Elliott is an All-Star winner.

Chase Elliott joined his father, Hall of Famer “Awesome” Bill Elliott, as winner of NASCAR’s annual All-Star Race, earning the $1 million prize Wednesday night in front of limited spectators at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it,” Elliott said.

Back in their Georgia hometown, the pool room marks every win by the father or son by blaring its horn no matter the time of day or night.

Elliott won the second and third stages of the event and earned the right to choose which lane he wanted to restart for the final 15-lap sprint to the finish. He picked the outside lane and pulled buddy Ryan Blaney with him on the restart but was never challenged and beat Kyle Busch to the finish line.

Bill Elliott won the race in 1986, the only year it was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race began in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and was held at that North Carolina track every year but one until it was moved during this pandemic-altered year.

Tennessee officials allowed NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports to sell 30,000 tickets to the All-Star Race, so it was moved from Charlotte because the state would not authorize spectators for the race.

“What a better night to have fans back,” Elliott said. “There’s nothing like Bristol. There’s no feeling like it. This speaks for itself, Bristol is an electric atmosphere. We’ll take that million dollars back to Georgia.”

The crowd surged to the fence and chanted “USA! USA!” as Elliott celebrated on the frontstretch. It was the most spectators at a sporting event in the United States since March. Because the speedway is privately owned, attendance numbers will not be released, but there appeared to be about 20,000 people in the grandstands. Tickets were on sale through Tuesday evening and still available on Bristol’s website until the deadline.

Bristol, dubbed “The Last Great Colosseum,” can hold about 140,000 spectators. Speedway Motorsports had those in attendance socially distanced through the grandstands and masks were only required upon entrance. Fans were told they could remove them once in their seats.

Following the postrace fireworks, an announcement was made to the crowd telling fans they’d be dismissed by row.