While this was happening up front, Kyle Busch had his first brush with disaster of the night on lap 48: Busch was twice turned into a spin by the front bumper of Jimmie Johnson's, and twice he was able to pull off a near-miraculous save to keep the #18 pointing in the right direction after running onto the apron at turn 2.
"I tried going down slowly, and Jimmie just must have been there a little bit, turned me sideways and got me on the apron," said Busch. "Scared everybody half to death, including me!"
Busch's near miss left the field string out, which was just as well as the second of the night's three multi-car wrecks took place on lap 56. It started with Ambrose, Logano and Truex Jr. bumping into one another in the pack into turn 2, and the fall-out then took out Earnhardt Jr., Harvick and Kenseth.
That meant that only ten cars remained on the lead lap at the next restart. Kyle Busch himself was toward the back of this group, and described the situation as "intense" with everyone pushing for position. "Pushing five rows deep, everybody squirrelly," he said, adding: "It was a great race from my seat; hopefully it was from everybody else's."
Ten laps later - and just four laps from the end - Busch had powered his way back through the pack and was tangling with Jeff Gordon for the lead. Then Tony Stewart emerged as a threat to them both, sliding down in front of Busch for the top spot as the race went into its penultimate lap - and then there was chaos.
With Busch checking up and getting loose because of Stewart in front, Gordon was all over him and ended up making contact. The #18 was sent spinning onto the apron for the second time of the night; and once again, somehow, he saved it. "Stab and steer, stab and steer," Busch explained. "That's what you do. And some brakes. There are brakes involved, too."
Gordon was not so lucky: the contact sent him up into the path of the Chevrolets of Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray, and all three cars ended up in the wall. Then Jimmie Johnson arrived on the scene, and the #48's nose managed to get underneath Gordon's right rear bumper and flipped the car into the air, leaving it barrel-rolling and sliding upside down toward the entrance to pit lane.
"That's the first time I've been upside down in 19, 20 years," said Gordon, who was unharmed in the spectacular accident. "We were in position to have a shot at winning this thing. That's what I feel bad about.
"The hit to the wall was much harder than any of the rest of it," he admitted. "The roll was pretty soft and pretty easy. The protection we have inside these cars are amazing because I didn't even hardly feel any of it. The toughest part was when you are laying upside-down and you can't get out of the car."
"With Gordon behind me, I don't know what the deal was there," said Busch of what had caused the accident. "He was pushing on me through1 and 2, just making me really loose ... I'd like to talk to him about it.