In his second race with 2011 Sprint Cup championship crew chief Darian Grubb on his pit box, Hamlin held off Kevin Harvick in a 53-lap green-flag run to finish the 312-lap race at the one-mile track and took over the series points lead for the first time since surrendering it in the final race of 2010 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Harvick lost fuel pressure with fewer than two laps left but had enough momentum to retain the second position, 7.315 seconds behind the race winner. Greg Biffle was the third place driver.
“I don’t know where this came from,” Hamlin said. “We were solidly off in practice. We were off, but we kept getting it better and closer and closer to being competitive, but I had no idea that we were going to fire off like we did today.”
The race was somewhat of an emotional let=down after Daytona but the closing laps were entertaining and showed ho good racing can be at Phoenix. The former dog-leg has been modified and all day, drivers were cutting the corner to aid in passing. Re-starts were the other opportunities for passing and with only a couple cut tires and some small crashes, the race had long green flag runs and an exciting finish.
The teams return to battle this weekend in Las Vegas.