"I just kind of got shot through the centre there, just a lot of momentum coming from behind," explained Kahne for his part. "Felt the #18 pushing me and next thing I know I was spinning. You just can't push with these cars. We learned that at Daytona, he was pushing me and spun me in the wall and then happened again, so that is what it is."
Kahne said that he wasn't going to be holding any grudges toward Busch for sparking the wreck: "I didn't talk to him. I think we both probably understand what happened and we will figure it out from there."
Vickers was one of those running close enough to be heavily involved in the wreck. Also affected to varying degrees were Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, David Reutimann, Jeff Burton, Casey Mears, Jeff Gordon, David Stremme, Kurt Busch and Scott Speed. It was, to put it mildly, a very big mess.
"I just saw them wrecking above me," said Biffle. "I thought about going to the left, I had plenty of room and probably should have, but I didn't. I just stayed straight and moved down all I could and it wasn't enough. They got me in the right-rear and turned me the wrong way up into the wall, a pretty hard hit, but that's all you can do is hang on when stuff like that happens."
The race finally resumed on lap 51, with Kenseth back in charge after pit stops. Kurt Busch was running in second place for a time despite the #78 needing four pit tops to address the damage sustained in the earlier multi-car accident. At the halfway point of the scheduled race distance on lap 94, Kenseth was back in front after a round of green flag pit stops with Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Michael Waltrip comprising the top eight.
This was a pivotal moment: with half the race completed, it meant that the race would be 'legal' even if the rain moved in for the rest of the day. There would be no return on Monday even if there was a downpour - something that was starting to become a very real possibility as the skies darkened over turns 1 and 2. As the weather radar started to relay a grom prognostication, the teams ordered their drivers to go for the front in case the race ended at any moment, and on lap 117 Jimmie Johnson duly brushed aside long-time leader Kenseth.
Johnson lasted four laps in the front before the Ford gang showed up and took charge: Roush Fenway team mates Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. moved to the front with Penske duo Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in third and fourth, followed by the Michael Waltrip Racing trio of Waltrip, Bowyer and Truex which pushed Johnson down to eighth place ahead of Earnhardt and Ryan Newman.
And at that point the rain moved in: an initial caution on lap 124 became a red flag stoppage next time around and the cars headed onto pit lane to park up and wait for the rain to pass. It proved a long wait, with the initial light rain turning into a full-fledged storm at one stage before just as suddenly abating and leaving NASCAR to attempt to dry the 2.66-mile track with their new Air Titan technology. Even so, the red flag lasted three and a half hours before the order was finally given by NASCAR to re-fire the engines, by which point it was nearly 7pm and close to sunset. With no floodlights available at Talladega and rain still intermittently in the air, this was always going to be a very rushed and fraught encore - which meant everyone would want to be in the lead as soon as possible, and for as long as possible in case the race was called prematurely.
A pre-resumption round of pit stops put Bobby Labonte in charge ahead of David Gilliland and Saturday's Nationwide race winner Regan Smith for the restart on lap 130, but four laps later Kenseth was back in charge once more with Edwards and Truex staying close behind him. One round of green flag pit stops remained to be conducted with most cars following Kenseth in on lap 166 with Kenseth's visit to pit lane going poorly by comparison with others putting him behind Johnson, Waltrip and Bowyer.
The #11 still more than had the measure of the opposition back out on the track and was charging back to the front when the fourth caution of the protracted day's racing came out on lap 173 for Michael McDowell blowing a tyre and hitting the wall in turn 2. The #48 still held the lead over Kenseth under the caution, and Johnson was on the radio trying to persuade NASCAR that it really was very wet out here now, honest it was, and they should really just call the race right here and now while he was in the lead and not risk a restart. Kurt Busch, still running in third, provided the chorus by pointing out how dark it was.