Gordon slowed and returned to the track just as Burton's Chevrolet turned across the nose of Mike Bliss' Chevy, severely damaging one of the fastest cars in the race (Burton's No. 31). Kasey Kahne and Scott Speed also sustained damage in the accident.
“The 48 (Johnson) is testing my patience, I can tell you that,” said Gordon, who finished 22nd. “It takes a lot to make me mad, and I am pissed right now. When a car's going that much faster (Gordon closed rapidly on Johnson), I don't know what it is with me and him right now—but whatever.”
After a complete cycle of green-flag pit stops, the complexion of the race changed on Lap 83, when contact from Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota sent Johnny Sauter's No. 36 Chevrolet spinning in the tri-oval. Sauter nosed into the right side of Kurt Busch's No. 2 Dodge, denting the body behind the front wheel well.
All told, 10 cars were involved, including the No. 17 Ford of Matt Kenseth, who entered the race second in the Cup standings, 108 points behind Johnson. Kenseth was a lap down at the time, after losing the draft early in the race and falling behind the lead pack.
The wreck also ruined promising runs by Paul Menard and Michael Waltrip.
“Honestly, at one point I looked up and it was me and Dale Jr. leading the race, and I thought, 'This feels great!' I hope the fans are enjoying it,” Waltrip said. “The car was fast. Kyle just messed up and ran into a guy and crashed him.
“When you set yourself to the standards that he does—he's really good and he'll tell you about it—but whether it's a tear-off or a caution flag, when you set yourself to those standards and then you make a mistake like that in front of the field, it's kind of disappointing.”
Johnson now leads second-place Harvick by 26 points in the Cup standings. Biffle is third, 86 points back.