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WATCH NOW: GREGORY COLUMN: NASCAR's All-Star race may not be at BMS next season

WATCH NOW: GREGORY COLUMN: NASCAR's All-Star race may not be at BMS next season

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Fireworks go off during driver introductions at Bristol Motor Speedway prior to July’s All-Star race.

The season of speed at Bristol Motor Speedway continues this weekend with the U.S. Short Track Nationals but it appears the 2021 docket will have a different look.

According to a report in The Athletic, next season’s All-Star Race will move to the Texas Motor Speedway following a one-year run at BMS.

Following years of campaigning by short track aficionados and BMS officials, NASCAR’s All-Star showcase was moved from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Bristol on July 15 due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the Charlotte area.

That high-stakes experiment attracted an estimated crowd of 22,000 to the mountains of Northeast Tennessee. At the time, it was the largest public gathering of any kind in the United States since the start of the pandemic.

Bristol Motor Speedway officials have not offered comment on The Athletic report, which indicated the All-Star date at Texas would shift to mid-season and replace one of the points races at the massive facility in Fort Worth.

Speedway Motorsports owns the speedways at Bristol, Charlotte and Texas.

NASCAR is expected to release the 2021 schedule soon, perhaps in a piecemeal process.

The reviews were mostly positive from last week’s four-race festival at BMS that showcased rising stars such as Sam Mayer and Chase Briscoe.

A loud and socially-distanced sellout in the 30,000 range added spice to Saturday’s main event. From early morning to late night, there was a big-game atmosphere with tailgating, music and souvenir shopping.

As for the race itself, it was another example of the new Bristol with the emphasis on technique and strategy instead of beating and banging.

These are trying times for old-school racing fans.

One week before The Night Race, the Playoff event at Richmond Raceway featured just three cautions and not a single on-track incident.

While most media types praised the show, veteran driver Clint Bowyer complained about the lack of action on the “Action Track.”

“I’m a fan of this sport and we’re going to ask fans to come back one of these days and we’ve got to put a better show on than that,” said Bowyer, placing much of the blame on tire selection.

Despite another round of promises for a bolder style of racing for the Playoff debut at BMS, there were just five cautions and no highlight worthy crashes on Saturday.

Only six cars finished on the lead lap, the fewest since the 2003 spring race. That’s right, just six cars on the lead lap at the checkered flag

There was one 156-lap caution-free stretch, and the final 81 laps went by without incident.

Relying on the wisdom of crew chief and former racer Rodney Childers along with the flawless work of his pit crew, Kevin Harvick led a total of 226 laps and held off Kyle Busch en route to his ninth victory of the season.

While Busch was criticized for his postrace comments regarding his team and lapped traffic, at least he didn’t attempt to force the issue and bump drivers out of the way.

But would that have been so bad?

With the NFL and college football underway, NASCAR needs some sizzle and headline-grabbing controversy.

The All-Star event and the Night Race placed little Bristol at the epicenter of motorsports during a season like none other.

Despite much criticism, NASCAR and BMS was able to navigate through all the COVID-19 hoops.

The next act comes Saturday as hundreds of grassroots racers from around the country check off their wish lists by tackling the high banks of BMS.

For the fourth straight year, the U.S. Short Track Nationals will include competition in the Street Stocks, Compacts, Pro Late Models and Super Late Model divisions.

In terms of power, it’s hard to match radical Super Late Models where the top drivers exceed 130 mph. Recent Bristol winners include current Cup regular Bubba Wallace, former Cup driver Mike Skinner, Truck series prodigy Raphael Lessard and local favorite Josh Reeves from Abingdon.

The 2021 schedule at BMS will change but the successful balancing act of 2020 will long be remembered in Bristol and beyond.

agregory@bristolnews.com | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544

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