After a disappointing season in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011, Denny Hamlin has started this year on a high note by winning Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Hamlin grabbed the lead for good with 59 laps remaining. Kevin Harvick challenged Hamlin for the lead late in the race, but Harvick ran out of fuel with less than two laps to go. He managed to coast across the finish line in second.
Greg Biffle placed third, while Jimmie Johnson took the fourth spot. Johnson came to Phoenix minus-23 in points after finishing 42nd in last Monday night's rain-delayed Daytona 500 and then NASCAR penalizing him with a loss of 25 points later in the week for rules violations that occurred the first day of Speedweeks at Daytona.
Brad Keselowski completed the top-five.
Following his eight race wins and second-place finish in the championship point standings in 2010, Hamlin scored only one victory last year, which came in the spring race at Michigan. He ended this previous season ninth in points.
At the start of this year, Hamlin was paired with crew chief Darian Grubb, who guided Tony Stewart to the 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship. Grubb was released from Stewart-Haas Racing and moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing.
Hamlin recorded his 18th career Sprint Cup win, including his first at Phoenix.