On Saturday night at Darlington Raceway, Johnson ended his own winless streak of 16 races, a drought of relative epic proportions for the five-time champion. The victory was Johnson's 56th, breaking a tie with Rusty Wallace for eighth on the all-time list.
Denny Hamlin ran second, followed by Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch andMartin Truex Jr.
Johnson won the 199th race for Hendrick, outdueling Kasey Kahnein last year's Oct. 9 Chase race at Kansas Speedway. In subsequent months, the organization has been tantalizingly close to No. 200 -- notably at Martinsville, where Hendrick drivers were running 1-2-3 before a late caution.
On Saturday night, in winning for the third time at the Lady in Black, Johnson finally put the question of the 200th win to rest. After pitting for the final time on Lap 299 of 368, however, Johnson had to save fuel to make it to the checkered flag.
All of Johnson's 56 victories have come under the Hendrick banner.
"You've got to love that man," Johnson said of his car owner during a celebration in Victory Lane. "He said, 'Two hundred is great, but let's go get 250.' So that tells you where his head is. I love it. Oh, man, what a day!"
In the closing laps, with the outcome in the balance, Hendrick left the pit box and paced up and down pit road.
"I had to get away," Hendrick said. "They said that we were going to make it [on fuel], but I don't believe them, you know? Everything has happened backward for us. We've run so good this year and then had such bad luck ...
"I'm kind of numb, but I'm glad it's over. I think we're going to win a few more now."
Matt Kenseth finished sixth and trimmed the series lead of Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, who came home 12th, to two points.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained third in the standings, 14 points back, after a 17th-place result. Hamlin is fourth in points, 17 behind Biffle.
Stewart, himself a car owner, had the highest praise for Hendrick, who picked up his first victory on a shoestring budget when Geoff Bodine won the April 29, 1984 event at Martinsville.
"I think it's phenomenal, especially with the competition over here getting tougher and tougher," said Stewart, who lost second position to Hamlin when his car temporarily lost fuel pressure coming to the final restart. "It's getting harder and harder to win these races.
"Especially for it to happen in the Southern 500 -- it's such a historic race. It's a pretty cool milestone."
Jimmie johnson said in his post race interview -
“You've got to love that man. He said, 'Two hundred is great, but let's go get 250.' So that tells you where his head is. I love it.”