For only the second time in the event’s 36-year history, the NASCAR All-Star Race will be held somewhere other than Charlotte Motor Speedway as North Carolina experiences an increase in COVID-19 cases.

In an announcement on Monday, Bristol Motor Speedway will host the All-Star Race for the first time on July 15.

Atlanta Motor Speedway was the only other track besides Charlotte to host the All-Star Race back in 1986.

“The NASCAR All-Star Race is an event known for making history, and we will enhance that legacy by hosting the event at Bristol Motor Speedway,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said in a release.

“Bristol will no doubt put on a show worthy of the spectacle that the All-Star Race has become known for, and we look forward to the challenge that the world’s fastest half-mile promises to deliver,” Smith added.

“We are excited to take one of the most unique races in our sport to one of the most unique racetracks in our sport,” NASCAR Executive Vice President of Racing Development Steve O’Donnell said. “Bristol Motor Speedway puts on classic short-track action every time we race there, and we’re anticipating an elevated level of intensity of the NASCAR All-Star Race,” he added.

Smith also noted in the release that Bristol makes for a better option for fan access this summer. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Sullivan County officials have allowed for up to 30,000 fans to attend the race next month. This will be the first major sport event in the country with fans since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Bristol Motor Speedway holds over 150,000 people, so the 30,000 limit will allow those attending to social distance within groups as they are asking fans to do.

Talladega officials are allowing fans at this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race. However, they are capping the number of attendees at 5,000 and also are not allowing any tailgating, which Bristol officials have said they will allow in July.

The specifics regarding procedures, protocols and other safety measures will be announced at a later date as plans are being finalized.

The All-Star race features drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series that have won a 2019 or 2020 Cup Series race, won a previous All-Star Race or are a former Cup Series champion. Those drivers currently eligible to compete in this year’s All-Star Race include: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliot, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

The final four spots in the All-Star Race will be reserved for the two stage winners and race winner from the All-Star Open as well as the winner of the All-Star Fan Vote.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV