Worth the wait, Jimmie Johnson wins no. 200 for Hendrick Motorsports at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SC - MAY 12: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with team owner Rick Hendrick after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 12, 2012 in Darlington, South Carolina. This is the 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

After seven months and 16 races, Jimmie Johnson finally gift-wrapped Rick Hendrick his 200th career win as an owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

For a moment, it looked like we might have had a repeat of Martinsville. After all, the race was decided on a green-white-checkered finish with Johnson restarting in front of two of the most aggressive drivers in NASCAR history in Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch.

But unlike Martinsville, Johnson cleared the competition on the restart and sailed away to win the Southern 500 by over half a second on Saturday night at Darlington Speedway.

"You gotta love that man. He just said 200's great, but let's go get 250," Johnson said after a postrace exchange in victory lane with his car owner. "So it tells you where his head is. I love it!"

The race came down to a fuel mileage gamble with Johnson, Stewart and Busch last pitting on lap 367. That meant the leaders would need to go at least 67 laps on a track that has a fuel window of 65-70 laps.

Each of the leaders took their chances by running on the apron and flipping their starters off under the caution. Fortunately for them, the yellow flag dropped in bunches, falling four times for 16 laps. That proved to be enough for Johnson to cruise to victory.

With the green-white-checkered finish, the leaders went 69 laps without pitting, which was enough for Johnson but not enough for Stewart. He ran out of gas and stalled on the final restart but rallied to finish P3. Denny Hamlin picked-off second. Busch and Martin Truex completed the top-5.

The Southern 500 wasn't quite as magical for Johnson's HMS teammate, Jeff Gordon. The four-time champion's disappointing season continued on Saturday night, cutting three tires and eventually going to the garage with an unknown problem. He finished in 35th and now sits 24th in the championship standings. The All-Star Break can't come soon enough for the 24 team.

Much like last year's race, the 2012 Southern 500 featured some late-race theatrics between Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman's...gas man.

Busch had brought out the final caution by cutting a tire and spinning in front of Newman with six laps to go. Busch slapped the turn three wall and nearly gathered it up before hitting the turn four wall and spinning in front of Newman.

Both Busch and Newman drifted towards the inside retaining wall, collected damage, and finished in 21st and 23rd respectively. But it didn't end there.

Busch sped through Newman's pit stall after the race and nearly made contact with several of Newman's crew. In response, gas man Andy Rueger (Seymour, IN) charged at Busch and had to be restrained by NASCAR officials.

Busch and Newman talked it over after the race and appeared to set their differences aside. It has to be a frustrating finish for both drivers. Busch was having his best run of the year on a non-restrictor plate track, staying consistently within the top-10, while Newman is fighting to secure a Chase spot.

That's a snapshot of the Southern 500. It's still one of NASCAR's crown jewels and it brings out the best and worst of the Sprint Cup garage.

Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, Rick Hendrick, and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. It's been a long and storied road to 200 wins and its likely just getting started.

Onto Charlotte Motor Speedway and the All-Star Break. Content editor Matt Weaver will be in attendance, providing live coverage of the Pit Crew Challenge, Camping World Truck Series race and the 28th All-Star Race. Follow his updates on the website or on Twitter @MattWeaverSBN.

The complete rundown and a video of the Busch/Newman conflict can be found after the jump!

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Number 11
Unofficial Race Results for the 63Rd Annual Southern 500
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Darlington Raceway - Darlington, SC - 1.366 Mile Paved
Total Race Length - 368 Laps - 502.688 Miles - Purse: $5,663,476
Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Pts Bns Driver Rating Winnings Status Tms Laps
1 2 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 368 48 5 141.1 $319,786 Running 6 134
2 8 11 Denny Hamlin Sport Clips Toyota 368 43 1 116.4 $238,656 Running 4 56
3 17 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / MOBIL 1 Chevrolet 368 41 103.1 $209,415 Running
4 5 18 Kyle Busch Wrigley Doublemint Toyota 368 41 1 120.9 $178,123 Running 5 44
5 6 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 368 40 1 117.2 $147,554 Running 2 25
6 19 17 Matt Kenseth Zest Ford 368 38 96.7 $154,776 Running
7 7 99 Carl Edwards Ford EcoBoost Fusion Ford 368 37 104.8 $145,906 Running
8 3 5 Kasey Kahne Rockwell Tools Chevrolet 368 37 1 108.8 $108,790 Running 2 33
9 28 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford 368 35 74.8 $130,748 Running
10 21 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota 368 34 90.6 $104,715 Running
11 26 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 368 33 86.1 $120,969 Running
12 1 16 Greg Biffle 3M / OH / ES Ford 368 33 1 115.4 $107,580 Running 2 74
13 14 27 Paul Menard Menards / Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet 368 31 76.4 $100,705 Running
14 9 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row / CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet 368 30 79.4 $117,488 Running
15 15 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge 368 29 75.9 $124,725 Running
16 23 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 368 28 85.1 $136,391 Running
17 24 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard Chevrolet 368 28 1 75.9 $96,930 Running 1 1
18 10 31 Jeff Burton BB&T Chevrolet 368 26 69.9 $126,530 Running
19 13 43 Aric Almirola Gravely Mower Ford 368 25 67.3 $124,416 Running
20 18 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 368 24 65.1 $87,605 Running
21 25 51 Kurt Busch Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet 368 23 87.0 $110,063 Running
22 31 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 367 22 54.2 $99,063 Running
23 4 39 Ryan Newman WIX Chevrolet 367 21 79.1 $125,263 Running
24 27 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 366 20 57.0 $113,696 Running
25 36 38 David Gilliland A&W All American Food Ford 366 19 54.5 $94,913 Running
26 20 83 Landon Cassill Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota 366 19 1 57.0 $108,575 Running 1 1
27 34 36 Dave Blaney SealWrap.com Chevrolet 365 17 51.0 $78,255 Running
28 37 34 David Ragan Peanut Patch / Margaret Holmes Ford 364 16 38.7 $90,152 Running
29 22 47 Bobby Labonte Scott Products Toyota 364 15 55.3 $88,680 Running
30 42 32 Reed Sorenson(i) Southern Pride Trucking Ford 363 0 39.7 $89,505 Running
31 38 10 Danica Patrick(i) GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 362 0 44.5 $76,980 Running
32 33 73 Travis Kvapil Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota 362 PE 40.4 $76,805 Running
33 16 22 AJ Allmendinger Shell Pennzoil Dodge 357 11 70.9 $121,480 Running
34 11 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Allstate Chevrolet 345 10 63.7 $107,813 Running
35 12 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger / AARP Chevrolet 339 9 80.9 $124,466 Running
36 41 93 David Reutimann Burger King / Dr. Pepper Toyota 314 8 43.4 $84,380 Running
37 43 49 JJ Yeley America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents Toyota 132 7 32.5 $75,915 Clutch
38 39 74 Cole Whitt(i) Turn One Racing Chevrolet 35 0 30.9 $75,682 Vibration
39 32 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Toyota 32 5 34.1 $72,225 Overheating
40 40 87 Joe Nemechek(i) AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota 27 0 31.4 $72,050 Power
41 35 52 Mike Skinner(i) CrusaderStaffing.com Toyota 20 0 29.6 $71,875 Electrical
42 29 79 Scott Speed Team Kyle / KOMA Unwind Ford 20 2 29.5 $71,780 Overheating
43 30 26 Josh Wise Morristown Drivers Service Ford 19 1 27.3 $72,139 Vibration
Race Comments: Before an estimated attendance of 63,000,

Jimmie Johnson won the Bojangles' Southern 500, his 56th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Prior to the green flag, no cars dropped to the rear of the field.

Failed to Qualify: (4) 23 Scott Riggs, 98 Michael McDowell, 33 Stephen Leicht #, 19 Mike Bliss(i).

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 45 Mins, 25 Secs. Average Speed: 133.802 MPH Margin of Victory: 0.781 Seconds

Caution Flags: 8 for 38 laps: Laps: 173-179 (Debris [15]); 195-199 (Debris [39]); 231-235 (Debris [88]); 299-303 (#47 Spin [1]); 308-311 (#78 Spin [31]); 317-319 (#1, 22 Accident Turn 4 [9]); 331-334 (#32 Spin [2]); 362-366 (#39, 51 Accident Turn 2 [55]).

Lead Changes: 22 among 8 drivers: G. Biffle 1-48; K. Kahne 49; J. Johnson 50; L. Cassill 51; Kyle Busch 52-72; G. Biffle 73-98; D. Hamlin 99-100; J. Johnson 101-172; Kyle Busch 173; J. Johnson 174-179; Kyle Busch 180-188; J. Johnson 189-194; Kyle Busch 195; D. Hamlin 196-199; K. Kahne 200-231; D. Hamlin 232-280; D. Earnhardt Jr. 281; M. Truex Jr. 282-298; D. Hamlin 299; M. Truex Jr. 300-307; J. Johnson 308-312; Kyle Busch 313-324; J. Johnson 325-368.

Top 12 Driver Points: (1) G. Biffle 411;(2) M. Kenseth 409;(3) D. Earnhardt Jr. 397;(4) D. Hamlin 394;(5) J. Johnson 372;(6) M. Truex Jr. 372;(7) T. Stewart 369;(8) K. Harvick 361;(9) Kyle Busch 349;(10) C. Edwards 337;(11) C. Bowyer 335;(12) B. Keselowski 328.

3M Lap Leader : Jimmie Johnson, #48 134 Laps American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award : Jimmie Johnson, #48

Coors Light Pole Award : Greg Biffle, #16 180.257 mph DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race : Kyle Busch, #18 crew chief Dave Rogers

Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race : Hendrick Engines, #48 Mobil 1 Oil Driver of the Race : Denny Hamlin, #11

Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race : Tony Stewart, #14 crew chief Steve Addington, 0.323 USG Improving the Finish : Marcos Ambrose, #9 19 places

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

Next Race: May. 17, 2012 - Charlotte Motor Speedway
NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications @ P.O. Box 2875, Daytona Beach, FL 32120-2875


Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Andy Rueger pit road video




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