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USATSI

The NASCAR All-Star Open and All-Star Race scheduled for the July 15 weekend has moved locations in order to bring in fans to the event. The races were originally scheduled for the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, but have moved to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith confirmed reports that 30,000 fans will be permitted, which is 20% of the 155,000 person capacity.

Speedway Motorsports owns Bristol Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As states slowly open back up, NASCAR is planning to have fans at races but had to do so in a state that was allowing people at sporting events.

North Carolina is seeing an increase in COVD-19 cases, so welcoming fans back there was not an option. Roy Cooper, the state's governor, said of the cases, "Right now, they're not trending in the right direction."

Tennessee, on the other hand, started allowing fans at sporting events on May 22, which made Bristol the perfect option for the All-Star events. 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is excited about the event. "We are proud to welcome the return of live sports in Tennessee at the iconic Bristol Motor Speedway," he 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."

Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that figuring out how to accommodate fans was important to them.

He said:

"As you see some areas open up, I think we start to concentrate on where could we have fans back. 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.

O'Donnell continued saying, "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."

This is the first time since 1987 that Charlotte will not be home to the All-Star Race. It was held in Charlotte when the race debuted in 1985 and in 1986 was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Since NASCAR's return following a break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, most races have been held without fans, as they felt it was in the best interest for everyone's health to keep the stands clear or mostly clear.

Homestead-Miami Speedway's Cup Series race on June 14 had up to 1,000 military members and family members as guests, which marked the first race with fans since March. 

The Geico 500 at Talladega Speedway race on June 31 will welcome 5,000 fans.

Races the following weeks at Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway will go back to driving in front of empty stands.