Hamlin wins first race of 2011

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - After losing the Cup championship on the final day of 2010, Denny Hamlin started 2011 in a funk.  Going into this weekend at Michigan, Hamlin was winless, and sitting in 12th in the points.

Lucky for the Chesterfield native, the season is far from over.

Hamlin won his first Cup race of the year Sunday, holding off Matt Kenseth at Michigan International Speedway.

The drivers appeared headed for a fuel-mileage finish Sunday. Then a late caution enabled them to make pit stops before a frantic five-lap sprint to the finish.

Kenseth was the only person with a shot to catch Hamlin in the final moments. He tried to go both above and below the leader but was unable to pass.

Kyle Busch finished third, giving Joe Gibbs Racing a 1-3 finish after the team was told to change oil pans before Friday's practice. NASCAR said oil pans from cars driven by Hamlin, Busch and Joey Logano were not submitted for approval before opening day inspection.

This marks the second straight year that Hamlin has won at MIS.  Hamlin jumps to ninth in the points.

The series shifts to Infineon next week.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.