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Officials reveal NASCAR All-Star Race trophy, pace car

Jeff Birchfield • Jul 4, 2020 at 5:00 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Food City and Bristol Motor Speedway teamed up Saturday to unveil the NASCAR All-Star Race trophy and pace car and to announce their partnership in the TN Strong Mask Movement.

The piston-shaped trophy and a Toyota Camry pace car were unveiled in front of the Food City location off Volunteer Parkway, just a couple of miles north of the speedway. The race will be held Wednesday, July 15 at 7 p.m.

“Holding the All-Star Race at Bristol, that’s the ultimate compliment NASCAR can give to the track and our region,” Food City CEO Steve Smith said. “I can assure you knowing the team at Bristol Motor Speedway, the protocols will be right. We’re going to have 30,000 fans, the first race to have a significant number of fans.

“We know in the grocery industry and the people business, it’s right to wear your masks. Wear them in the concourse when they’re around others, but when they sit down, they can take their masks down. It’s similar to what you do in a restaurant where you wear your mask on the way to the table, but then you can take the masks off.”

The Bristol TN Strong Masks will be sold at all Food City locations in the Tri-Cities region as well as at the All-Star Race. A portion of each mask sold will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities.

BMS is one of 30 Tennessee brands chosen by Gov. Bill Lee to participate in the TN Strong Mask Movement. Others are ETSU, FedEx, Graceland, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Nashville Predators, the Tennessee Titans and the University of Tennessee.

“It’s vital for the public to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we want to do our part to make more available to the public,” Smith said. “We’re pleased the proceeds will go towards helping children in our area through the great work conducted by Speedway Children’s Charities.”

The 35th annual NASCAR All-Star Race will include 2019 and 2020 Cup Series winners, previous All-Star winners and former Cup champions. If seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is unable to participate after testing positive for the coronavirus and replacement driver Justin Allgaier pilots the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, he would have to earn a spot through the All-Star Open or by fan vote.

Food City teased a later announcement about its involvement with the All-Star Race. The company sponsors BMS events like the Cup Series Food City 500, the Xfinity Series Food City 300 and Food City Family Race Night.

In addition, Food City is involved in other local racing. Kres VanDyke drove his No. 15 Food City-sponsored Chevrolet to a third straight win at Kingsport Speedway on Friday night. Food City also sponsored recent dirt track races at Volunteer Speedway.

The grocery chain’s history as a BMS sponsor extends nearly three decades.

“Food City is like family to us,” BMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell said. “We think a lot alike and we’ve been doing business for a long time. They do things the right way and know their customers are first. (Speedway Motorsports chairmen) Bruton and Marcus (Smith) have the same philosophy that the fans are first.”

A pair of other events held Saturday were the SCCA Autocross in the parking lot between Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway. On the Thunder Valley drag strip, the BTE World Footbrake Challenge was in its second day of three $10,000-to-win races.

Corey Griffith from Alliance, Ohio, won Friday night’s final over Charlie Lockhart of Mayfield, Kentucky. Griffith was slightly quicker at the start with a .020 reaction time. He was unbeatable by matching his dial-in time of 6.92 seconds at 98.95 mph.

Drivers from Virginia and Missouri also made the semifinal round.

Caldwell discussed how the Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway facility stays busy throughout the year.

“During a normal year, we have almost 1,000 events per year,” he said. “That’s over 300 days a year with some event going on. We’re thrilled to host events like the autocross and World Footbrake Challenge and welcome people back into the region.”

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