The Sprint Cup title might be decided in Homestead after all.
Just when it appeared Champions Week would be next week in Phoenix, the fans received a reprieve after Sam Hornish Jr. was tapped from behind in turn two, lost control of his car, and nailed Jimmie Johnson three laps into the Dickies 500.
The No. 48 Chevrolet limped to the garage, where the three-time championship-winning squad waited and fellow Hendrick Motorsports crewmen from the Nos. 24 and 88 teams rushed to the scene to assist.
As the Hendrick contingent thrashed to get Johnson's Chevrolet race-worthy, three start-and-parks eased his pain from remaining 43rd for the day.
One hour and eight minutes later, with new rear-end housing, new decklid, new nose, and new upper control arms, Johnson returned to the track on Lap 115—112 laps behind the leaders.
A subsequent wreck triggered by Juan Pablo Montoya on Lap 175 knocked the No. 42 Chevrolet out of contention along with Carl Edwards.
Jeff Gordon spun, but after the team fixed a splitter brace in the pits, he returned to action.
Montoya received significant damage and lost 87 laps in the garage before he finished the race 37th.
But Edwards' damage was beyond repair. He was scored 39th—Edwards' worst result of the season.