The Sprint All-Star Race is one of the more anticipated events on the NASCAR schedule. As you watch Saturday's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, here is a primer on what storylines to follow, drivers to keep an eye on along with the actual start time, TV coverage and more.
Risk vs. reward
In an event where being forceful is often paramount to winning, patience is an overlooked virtue. Because it's not uncommon to see a crash at the front of the field among drivers who are overaggressive, biding one's time and putting oneself in position to capitalize on others' mistakes can be the best tactic to winning.
A year ago, Jimmie Johnson asserted himself early and won the opening segment then played it safe until the final segment. From there, he went all-in and drove away for what was his third All-Star race victory.
Although the format will be different from last season and a win in one of the opening four heats no longer guarantees a favorable starting spot in the final segment, being cautious early could again pay dividends later.
Focused on winning, but with one eye on the Coca-Cola 600
In consecutive weeks Charlotte will play host to Cup events providing teams with a unique opportunity.
With track conditions that will mirror the second-half of next week's Coca-Cola 600 and without an evening practice session leading up to next Sunday, the All-Star Race offers teams a good indicator of what they can expect in NASCAR's longest race.
"It's not really a practice session for the 600 because you want to win the All-Star Race, but I think you're going to learn some stuff in the All-Star Race that's going to help you in the 600," Matt Kenseth said. "I think the biggest thing you're going to learn is how the track changes from the middle of today (Friday) when we get to go out for practice tomorrow night and hopefully we'll be able to apply that to next week's practice to the race."
Can Joe Gibbs Racing snap its All-Star Race drought?
No organization has won more races or led more this season than Joe Gibbs Racing. This dominance has been especially prevalent on intermediate tracks where JGR cars went to victory lane at Las Vegas, Fontana, Texas and Kansas.
That success coming into Charlotte puts JGR in position to do something it has never done, win an All-Star race. The team is 0-for-21 in All-Star races, despite a history of success at the mile-and-a-half track which includes four wins overall.
1. Kyle Busch
Although he has yet to win the All-Star Race, this event is tailor-made for Busch due to its abbreviated format which rewards aggressiveness and drivers who aren't afraid to force the issue.
2. Matt Kenseth
With two wins and two other top fives in the last four weeks, no one enters Charlotte with more momentum than Kenseth. He also has victories this year at Las Vegas and Kansas, which have similar characteristics to Charlotte.
3. Jimmie Johnson
If a non-JGR car is to win the most likely candidate is the guy who won this race a year ago. But if Johnson is to go back-to-back he's going to have to overcome his 18th-starting position after sliding through his pit stall in qualifying.