Denny Hamlin led Joe Gibbs Racing after driving from the back of the field to finish third in today’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Matt Kenseth was solid throughout the day and finished seventh while an early race spin left Kyle Busch to battle back from a lap down to finish 23rd.
Hamlin, who won this race one year ago, qualified eighth on Friday, but changed out his engine prior to the final practice session Saturday which resulted in having to drop to the back of the field for the start of today’s race. Hamlin showed tremendous patience in his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota however as he methodically worked his way up through the field. He would enter the top 30 within the first 10 laps of the race and was inside the top 20 ¼ of the way into the scheduled 312 laps. Pit strategy and great stops by the FedEx crew would help Hamlin continue to make his way forward and he would enter the top five by the midpoint of the race. Hamlin would remain in the top 10 the rest of the day and he lined up fourth for a green white checker finish on lap 314. He would make a tremendous move to get around both Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski for second, but Johnson would come back to edge Hamlin at the line and he would settle for an outstanding third-place effort.