Elliott Sadler took the lead with 25 laps left in the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway and held off hard-charging Brad Keselowski to win for the first time at PIR and the sixth time in his Nationwide Series career.
"It's a very emotional win," Sadler said. "We all know how long it's been. Richard (Childress) is such a great owner. He talks to me with confidence in me and the race team. As a driver and as a person, that's all you can ask for. I told him after practice, 'We have a good car, but this ain't my best track.' Richard said, 'You will tomorrow.'"
Defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran third, followed by rookie Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick, who dominated the race but fell victim to pit strategy in the late going.
Driving for Richard Childress Racing after selling his own team to RCR last year, Harvick took control of the race on lap 53, when he passed Hamlin for the lead four circuits after a restart. He pulled away to an advantage of more than six seconds before Kenny Wallace's crash into the Turn 4 wall caused the second caution of the afternoon.
Hamlin, the pole-sitter, regained the lead off pit road on lap 105, but it didn't last, as Harvick took over the top spot moments after the subsequent restart on lap 111.
Harvick stayed out front until NASCAR called the third caution on lap 163 for debris in Turn 3. When the leap-lap cars pitted one circuit later, Harvick took four tires and came out seventh, as the six drivers ahead of him either took two tires or fuel only on their stops.
Keselowski passed Hamlin for the lead after the restart on lap 168 but surrendered the top position to Sadler on lap 175.
Sadler's win comes at the track where he was taken out of title contention in the penultimate round of the 2011 Nationwide season, after being hit in the rear by Jason Leffler.
"That honestly feels like 3-4 years ago," Sadler said. "Last year was last year. We're on a whole new deal, season and outlook with a different team. What happened here last year didn't weigh on my mind for one second.
"Coming out of Daytona with a third-place finish, we just had a different feeling for this particular race. I don't want to dwell on last year. I just want to stay focused week-to-week."