DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson broke free on a restart three laps from the end in the Southern 500 and held on Saturday night to give Hendrick Motorsports its 200th Sprint Cup victory.
Johnson seemed short on fuel and tires and looked vulnerable with Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch right behind and ready to pounce after Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman spun out with six laps left at Darlington Raceway.
But Stewart had trouble once the green flag dropped and Johnson flew into the lead and cruised to his first victory since Kansas last October, breaking a 16-race winless drought for the five-time NASCAR champion and the Hendrick team.
Denny Hamlin was second, followed by Stewart and Kyle Busch.
Danica Patrick lasted until the end of her second Sprint Cup race, finishing six laps behind Johnson in 31st. (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)