It’s an off week. It’s an on week.
Depends on the perspective.
The Sprint All-Star Race, scheduled Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, awards no points and doesn’t have a spot for every driver.
But there are few races drivers would rather win. The All-Star race has a big payout, and the prestige that comes along with a win is considerable.
"The All-Star race is kind of a 'win-or-nothing' scenario, and that's not the case on other race weekends," said Jeff Gordon, a three-time winner. "I've always approached it being as aggressive as I possibly can. We push hard trying to win every race, and this weekend is no different. The only difference is there are no points on the line.
"While the segments are short, and it's a different type of race compared to the next weekend's 600 (Coca-Cola 600), it does give us a chance to learn what may or may not work for next weekend."
The race has undergone yet another format modification. There will be four 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap segment.
After the first four segments, the field’s running order will be adjusted based on each driver’s average finish in the segments. Then there will be a four-tire pit stop, and the drivers will begin the final segment based on how they return to the track.
All laps will count in the first four segments, while only green-flag laps will count in the 10-lap shootout.
Nineteen drivers have qualified for the race. The field also will include the winner of a fan vote and the top two finishers from the Sprint Showdown, a “last chance” race scheduled prior to the feature.
Among the entries in the Showdown are Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola.
Sprint Cup Series point leader Jimmie Johnson has won the All-Star Race three times and will be among the favorites Saturday.
Weekend race coverage on SPEED begins Friday with a series of All-Star practice and qualifying sessions, leading up to live coverage of the Camping World Truck Series race at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
On Saturday afternoon, a special three-hour All-Star edition of NASCAR RaceDay Fueled by Sunoco begins at 4 p.m., leading into live coverage of the All-Star Race at 7 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub hosts Steve Byrnes and Danielle Trotta will handle driver introductions.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.