Paul Menard started the day fourth, but he showed quickly he will be a force to end the day with his first Sprint Cup victory. Overhauling Carl Edwards for the lead, Menard stretched the gap on the polesitter before Jimmie Johnson took over second place.
A multi-car accident on just after lap 30 brought out the first caution of the race. Jeff Burton appeared to have a flat tire exiting turn four, triggering a stackup that collected Trevor Bayne, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers, Denny Hamlin, and A.J. Allmendinger. Vickers took his Toyota to the garage, while Reutimann has been severely off the pace.
Jimmie Johnson hounded Menard for the lead after the restart from that accident, but could not get past as Kyle Busch closed from behind in third place. That's how they ran at the competition yellow on lap fifty.
David Gilliland assumed the lead by staying out during the caution. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman restart second and third by taking two tires on their respective pit stops.